The medal that saved my life
Tulsidevi Danai holds up a battered medal bearing the likeness of King George VI. To her, it is the difference between life and death.
“This is my evidence for getting my Welfare Pension [from The Gurkha Welfare Trust],” she explains. Her husband, Rifleman Bakhansing Khatri, earned it for his service during the Second World War, fighting in the jungles of Burma.
“It was hard for them,” she says. “They didn’t have enough supplies. When he used to fill his water bottle in the jungle it was dirty and full of leeches. But they had no choice but to drink it.
“He was taken prisoner by the Japanese soldiers. He told me that he and the other Gurkhas were surrounded and that, when their bullets ran out, they were captured. He was beaten at the prison camp and they had no food for days.”
“When he came back to Nepal after the war he was very ill. We married much later but I spent many years trying to heal his body and his mind.”
The couple went on to have three children together. Bakhansing lived as a subsistence farmer in his home district of Lamjung until he passed away in 1999.
Receiving our Welfare Pension
We first provided the couple with our Welfare Pension in 1994. Since Bakhansing’s death in particular, 68-year-old Tulsidevi has relied heavily on our support.
“Without the pension, what could I do? I can’t steal to live. This is all I have. It is very hard to get by.”
“I often go to The Gurkha Welfare Trust doctors as they are close to where I live. It’s very useful to have this free healthcare and very convenient for me.”
Standing outside her home, where she now lives with her grandson, Tulsidevi turns the broken medal over in her hands thoughtfully.
“Some thieves once came and stole his other medals. This is all I have left…
“Bakhansing made a big sacrifice to earn this. It means a lot to me. It’s a memory of him. It’s been nearly 20 years since he died.
“There’s not a lot I can say to those who are supporting me other than thank you. You are doing a good thing.”
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The Last Overland Expedition famously drove a Land Rover from the UK to Singapore back in 1955.
Filmmaker Alex Bescoby along with the grandson of Tim, an original member of The Last Overland Team, is attempting the same 16,000km journey in the same vehicle, raising money for a number of charities, including us. They’re currently through Nepal and we’ve been delighted to welcome them at our Welfare Centres along the way.