A Gurkha family’s near-death experience
When we visited World War Two veteran Dandar Bahadur Magar, he was relaxing on the veranda of his newly built home. However, life hasn’t always been kind to Dandar and his family…
Dandar’s home was built by the GWT after he and his wife Omkumari lost their old house in the earthquakes of 2015. The newly built house is one of over 1,000 we’ve built to an earthquake-resistant standard for veterans and widows across Nepal. The couple are now cared for by their son Dhojbahadur, a teacher at the local school.
Surviving the earthquake
Talking about the day of the earthquake, their son explains just how close Dandar came to being killed.
“He was asleep when the earthquake came, out on the old veranda. It didn’t even wake him! I grabbed my two children and my father and dragged them all away from the house. Moments later the place where he was sleeping was under rubble.”
Dandar nods: “I was very confused at first. Why was he picking me up? It was only after, when I saw the house, that I understood the danger.
“I simply thought: ‘This is it. I will die now.’ I didn’t know what we would eat or where we would sleep”
“We made a rough shelter and a few days later [Gurkha Welfare Trust] staff came and looked at the house and gave us a cash grant. Then later they came back with metal sheets to make a shelter.
“After a few months, [the Trust] confirmed that they would help us to rebuild. I was happy again! I had thought I would die, but now I would have somewhere to live again.”
Without your help life would be very difficult. We had no money to rebuild by ourselves. We’re very grateful for this support – it is more than I could hope for.”
The house was completed in early 2017 and Dandar is delighted to be out of his temporary shelter.
“It is very good to have some space! We were very crowded before. I didn’t like the thunder because I knew it meant rain would come.”
Medical aid from The Gurkha Welfare Trust
Our mobile doctor gives Dandar and his wife a check-up and hands over some medication for their complaints.
“I try to go to the local welfare centre when I can, but now the doctors come to see me too.”
“Once, I had to go to the hospital in Kathmandu and the GWT even let me stay at the welfare centre there so we didn’t have to pay for accommodation.”
Our medical aid is vital for Dandar and Omkumari. Like our other Welfare Pensioners, they could not afford treatment otherwise.
“We use our pension to pay for food and occasionally some clothes. My son and his wife grow a little food on our land but only enough for around three months of the year.”