6th April 2022

Our Residential Homes: supporting residents like Bhim

When we look at supporting Gurkha veterans and their families in Nepal, we do so holistically. For some, we might visit them at home, check their health, supply regular medication or provide them with some money. For others, living with dignity means needing a lot more than that – full-time care and a safe roof over their head.

Family life in Nepal

In Nepal, the family, as a social institution, is the main source of support and care for the elderly. It is traditional for younger members of the family to help them with day-to-day activities and support them in other ways.

“Traditional family values, including revering elders, and providing care and support to the elderly is considered a social norm and a moral duty for family members.” 

Advances in Aging Research > Vol.10 No.6, November 2021

There are occasions however, where this simply is not possible. With limited industry in Nepal, many children of Gurkhas have had to seek employment elsewhere, with many across the border in India for example – leaving elderly relatives to live alone. These isolating conditions in a country as unpredictable as Nepal can accelerate health issues, both physical and mental.

Our pioneering Residential Homes

Our two pioneering Residential Homes in Nepal (one in Pokhara in the west, and Dharan in the east) provide round-the-clock care to some of our most vulnerable Gurkha veterans and widows who would otherwise struggle to live alone. With no comparable facility in Nepal, they set the standard of care for the elderly. They combine the best in western geriatric care with an eastern culture of respect for elders.

Rifleman Bhim Bahadur Gurung

Rifleman Bhim Bahadur Gurung is a resident at the Home in Pokhara. At 98 years old, he is one of the oldest residents, and the team refer to him as ‘Baje’, translated roughly as ‘Grandad’.

Bhim served in the Gurkhas between 1942 and 1947 and was stationed in Burma, and later Afghanistan.

“In Burma, we stayed in Dhaku. There was a river and we had to stay on the bank of river in our tents for over five months. When they needed more men, they used to select soldiers who were strong and send them to fight.”

Bhim’s three brothers also fought in the Army:

“People used to say that this family will be rich as four of them are in the army but in reality, it was not the case.”

As with so many of the Gurkha veterans we support, the return to Nepal was difficult. However, thanks to our loyal supporters, Bhim is able to live with dignity in his old age.

“Now that GWT is looking after me, I am a lot happier. They have given me a place to stay, good food to eat, medicines. Thank you for the food, clothes, allowances, medicines. It’s good and I am happy.”

Watch Bhim enjoy knitting at our Residential Home:

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