15th September 2017

Gurkha hero Gayam Gurung

When we visited Gayam Gurung, he spoke with pride of his time as a Gurkha in the British Army.

“I was a Rifleman,” he said. “I had a Lee Enfield Mark III. I fought for nearly a year at the end of the war in Burma. It was like Nepal – there were lots of hills and jungles! It was hard to see the enemy so we had to sneak up close to them. They did the same to us. I remember being ambushed – they shot at us so many times.”

Gayam remembers fighting at the Irrawaddy River – a legendary series of battles as the Allies mounted pressure on Japanese forces in the final year of the war.

“The bullets sprayed around me, thank God they didn’t hit. Yes, I was scared but the whole thing felt like a dream. I’m lucky to be alive.”

Retirement for the Gurkha veteran

“After the war, I was made redundant. I returned to Lamjung district, my home village Kholki. Like everyone else, I started farming – planting rice, herding animals and so on. But I was a young man then and it was easier.

“I started to receive the Welfare Pension around 25 years ago. Thanks to this, I can enjoy my old age. I wonder what life would have been like without the pension. I don’t know how I would have managed.”

Gayam’s wife sadly passed away around the same time he started to receive our pension, meaning he was left to support their four sons and four daughters alone. Without our financial aid, he would be destitute.

Gayam also receives regular medical aid from us – his son collects his medication from our Welfare Centre in Lamjung. Our mobile medical team visits Gayam for checkups at his home, which was actually built by the Trust following the Nepal earthquakes in 2015. He lives there with his son, daughter-in-law and three grandchildren.

The 2015 Nepal earthquakes

“I was inside my old house when the earthquake struck. Suddenly the world was shaking. I made it outside by the river and part of the house collapsed there and then. At that moment I did feel despair. We all thought it would keep coming. I didn’t know what to do.”

“The welfare staff brought me things to cook with and some tarpaulin. Later they came back with metal sheets to make a proper shelter. After a while, we rented a room in the town.”

“When I heard you would help me to build this house, I couldn’t really believe it. But it’s true – it was finished at the end of 2016.  It’s like a palace to me. It’s very strong – I feel safe here.”

“Without this help, what could I do? I was looking at rent prices but I couldn’t afford this. Building never even crossed my mind; there was no money for that.

“To those who paid for my house, all I can say is thank you. You must be good people to help a poor man like me.”

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