Living with disability: a Gurkha hero’s daughter
Life in Nepal can be hard at the best of times. For those who suffer from a disability, it can be an almost impossible experience.
This is equally true for the children of many of our Gurkha pensioners. As fathers, our veterans are deeply concerned with the well-being of their family, especially as they grow older and are faced with the prospect of no longer being around to help them.
To ensure that some of the more vulnerable children of Gurkha veterans are able to live with dignity, we provide Disability Support Grants after the loss of their parents. This ongoing assistance helps them to survive in a country with limited healthcare, welfare support and infrastructure.
A Gurkha veteran’s daughter
Bhagawati Panth Chhetri’s father, Rifleman Dil Bahadur Khatri, fought alongside Britain in some of the most intense action of World War Two. With the Chindits in Burma, he was part of long-range jungle missions deep behind enemy lines.
“My father used to tell stories from his time in the army. He was in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp for over six months. I think it was very hard for him.”
After surviving the war, Dil returned to his home village to take up a life of farming. He married and, in 1964, the couple had their first child, Bhagawati.
Facing disability in Nepal
While she was born healthy, the rifleman’s daughter unfortunately suffered from a mystery illness as an infant.
“When I was a child I became ill and it made my legs so weak that I cannot walk now. I can’t do a lot of the things most people need to earn money and survive here, like farming.”
As an impoverished Gurkha veteran who didn’t qualify for an Army pension, Dil received our monthly Welfare Pension. When he died in 1997, we transferred the pension to his widow. In 2015, she also passed away, leaving Bhagawati alone. We soon agreed to provide a Disability Support Grant so that she would not suffer.
“I was very happy to learn that I could continue to get support after my parents died. I wasn’t expecting it. I don’t have any other income so this money is all I have to get by.”
“Without your help, I don’t know what I’d do. Life would be very difficult. I’d have to go begging from my friends and neighbours.”
In addition to our financial aid, Bhagawati is eligible for our medical support which is all the more important in light of her condition.
How your funds are helping
Thanks to our supporters’ generosity, we’re currently helping 218 disabled Gurkha children with our grants, which go up to a maximum value of 9,000 rupees or roughly £69 per month.
Bhagawati and many like her are strongly dependent on your help in order to survive.
“I’d like to thank all these people who are remembering my father’s service. I’ve never met you but you have made our lives so much better. Thank you very much.”