Post-war developments

In the late 1960s, following the end of various Eastern conflicts, there was a significant reduction in the number of serving Gurkhas in the British Army.

It was realised that many Gurkha soldiers and their dependants or widows in Nepal faced destitution in old age. Many of these soldiers had served in the World Wars. However, they had not served the 15 years needed to qualify for an Army pension.

Unlike their British counterparts who could rely on the welfare state in old age, the Nepali Gurkhas had no such safety net.

A debt of honour

In recognition of our debt to these soldiers, a public appeal – organised by British Gurkha officers – raised £1m to establish an aid organisation.

It began to create a network of bases in Nepal to provide support to retired soldiers who had met with disasters such as landslides and floods. The Gurkha Welfare Trust was born.

The difficulties of life in Nepal

Nepal remains one of the poorest countries in the world, with limited industry, agriculture and infrastructure. It also lacks effective public services or social welfare systems.

The country suffers from a complex terrain and climate, with frequent natural disasters as demonstrated by the devastating earthquakes in 2015.

Today, GWT provides financial, medical and development aid to Gurkha veterans, their families and communities.

If we didn’t have the pension, our life would be in fate’s hands. Thank you to all those who are supporting us

Rifleman Kala Gurung, 90-year-old Welfare Pensioner

Our support is critical for ex-servicemen and their dependants, who are often unable to work through age, illness or injury. The GWT Welfare Pension is often all that stands between a Gurkha veteran and destitution.

Case study: Rifleman Shersing Gurung

In the beautiful village of Milim Besi, an hour’s walk from the nearest road lives Rifleman Shersing Gurung. At the age of 96, he is understandably frail and vulnerable but after a few minutes it becomes clear that he’s a truly remarkable man.

Shersing tells stories of how, aged 14, he would travel 6 days by foot towards Tibet, where he would fill his doko with as much Himalayan rock salt as he could carry. The journey back was dangerous and tiresome, but was undoubtedly the perfect training to become a Gurkha.

Shersing enlisted in October 1940 and fought against Japanese forces in Burma during WWII. He remembers fighting for days on end, often with little food.

After demobilisation, he returned to his remote village and a life of subsistence farming. He started receiving the Welfare Pension in January 1994 – it provides him with a means to avoid the hunger of his war years.

Nepal earthquake in 2015

The veteran says that he wasn’t afraid during the war, but that the recent earthquake scared him. When it struck, Shersing was sleeping under the sun in his courtyard. He felt the ground shaking and heard walls collapsing but couldn’t find the strength to move.

Luckily his daughter arrived in time to drag him to safety and Shersing survived. However, when our staff visited they found him alone in a cattle shed: his house was completely destroyed.

Fortunately, GWT has since helped to rebuild the family home in Milim Besi, repaying Shersing for his diligent and unwavering service.

The Trust at a glance

A brief summary of what we do and our plans for the coming years.

Take a look at an infographic covering the Trust's work in 2015-16.

Our earthquake response

Find out more about how we're helping Gurkha veterans, their families and communities to rebuild their lives following the recent disaster.

Did you know?

Every penny raised makes a difference to Gurkha pensioners.

An average primary medical treatment costs just £2.60 in our medical programme.