The Gurkha Welfare Trust: Supporting Elderly Gurkhas

The Gurkha Welfare Trust

Gurkhas are the fighting men of Nepal.  For generations, they have fought with courage and loyalty alongside British soldiers. This tradition of service continues today.

2nd Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles

Pictured above: 2nd Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles

Gurkhas first encountered the British in the Gurkha War of 1814 – 1816 which ended, not just in stalemate, but with an abiding sense of mutual respect between the two sides. The Peace Treaty that ended the war enabled Gurkhas to serve in the East India Company’s army which, in turn, became part of the British Army.

Since then, Gurkhas have served all over the world.  More than 200,000 fought in the two World Wars and, in the last 70 years, they have fought with distinction in Hong Kong, Borneo, Malaya, Cyprus, the Falklands, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Gurkha Welfare Trust was established in 1969 when it was realised that many retired Gurkhas were facing destitution in their homeland of Nepal.

A Trustee’s Inspiring Story

John Anderson

Pictured above: John Anderson

John Anderson, 69, joined The Brigade of Gurkhas in 1965.  He was commissioned into 6th Queen Elizabeth’s Own Gurkha Rifles and commanded his Regiment from 1985 to 1988. He retired from the Army as a Brigadier in 2000.

John is a founding member of The Gurkha Welfare Trust and has worked closely with the charity since its formation in 1969.

“My connection with Gurkhas extends right back to when I was growing up in Singapore, where my father was commanding a regiment. Many of my classmates were sons of Gurkhas and were destined to follow in their fathers’ footsteps. I didn’t know it at the time, but the friends I made then were to last a lifetime.  And I saw those boys become men like their fathers, and every Gurkha soldier before them – fearless in battle and loyal to the Crown.

Having served a full career with the 6th Gurkha Rifles, I feel privileged to have lived and worked alongside the bravest, toughest men I have ever met.

I first witnessed the phenomenal bravery of the Gurkhas at the Hong Kong border, when our regiment was called in to defend against the violent riots and terrorist attacks.  Faced with the threat of a communist invasion, my Gurkha comrades were clearly not afraid of anyone.  I think Prince Harry, who served with the Gurkhas in Afghanistan, summed it up well when he said, ‘When you know you are with the Gurkhas, there is no safer place to be.’”

A Brave Gurkha Soldier

Rifleman Lachhiman Gurung

Pictured above: Rifleman Lachhiman Gurung

“There are, of course, countless accounts of individual Gurkha soldiers’ great bravery, yet one that stands out is that of Rifleman Lachhiman Gurung – one of 13 Nepalese Gurkhas to be awarded the Victoria Cross.

Rifleman Gurung was defending a position in Burma in 1945 when more than 200 Japanese soldiers attacked.  Twice, Rifleman Gurung hurled back grenades that had fallen into his trench.  The third grenade he picked up exploded in his right hand, shattering his arm.  With his comrades lying wounded, and despite his injuries, Rifleman Gurung loaded his rifle and fired with his left hand, taking on the enemy troops singlehandedly until the surviving Japanese soldiers eventually fled.

Rifleman Gurung later said, with typical Gurkha modesty, ‘I had to fight because there was no other way.  I felt I was going to die anyway, so I might as well die standing on my feet.  All I knew was that I had to go on and hold them back.  I am glad that I helped the other soldiers in my platoon, but they would have all done the same thing.’

Men like Rifleman Gurung are the bravest of the brave, and there is almost a sense of invincibility about them.  So, it’s hard to think that many of these men are now frail, elderly and incredibly vulnerable.

I believe we all owe a huge debt of honour to our Gurkha veterans – to those who defended our country and risked their lives for us.”

The Gurkha Welfare Trust’s Mission to Help Elderly Gurkhas

“Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world.  Life in the rural villages, where Gurkha soldiers are recruited and return to, is incredibly hard.  So as veterans get older, they struggle to grow food or journey down the steep hills to collect water.  Many also suffer from bad health and cannot afford even basic medical care.

Elderly gurkhas waiting for pension

Pictured above: Waiting for their pensions

That is why the work of The Gurkha Welfare Trust is so important.  It is the leading Gurkha welfare charity and has as its mission that all Gurkhas should live in dignity.  It fulfils this mission by providing a monthly pension, winter fuel allowance and emergency grants to thousands of elderly Gurkha veterans or widows in Nepal who would otherwise be destitute.  For those too ill or frail to live independently, it pays a monthly carers’ allowance and runs two residential homes.  Through a network of medical centres, pharmacies, and doctors and nurses, the Trust provides life-saving medical care to these elderly veterans and their families.

And it doesn’t forget the villages in which they live, the communities that ‘offered up’ their best young men to us;  it has long-running aid programmes in Nepal, providing clean water and sanitation, schools and community medical care.

I will never forget visiting the first Residential Home we built in Nepal.  I met 16 Gurkha veterans and widows who had been rescued from the worst possible circumstances.  But when they greeted me, it was clear from their smiles that they had been given a new lease of life.

Pictured above: Pension payment week at Tanahun

Pictured above: Pension payment week at Tanahun

One veteran had arrived particularly malnourished and frail. Life had been incredibly difficult but he told me that, thanks to The Gurkha Welfare Trust, a cataract operation had restored his sight and new false teeth meant he could eat properly again.  He was growing stronger, not just from finally having enough to eat, but also because he was in the company of his comrades and was treated with the respect he deserved.

Since 1815, Gurkhas have been fighting by our side in every major conflict. They are the best and brightest of people and, in their prime, they leave their homes and families to fight for our country. Many families are very proud that generation after generation of their family have served our country.

It has been an honour to have supported the work The Gurkha Welfare Trust since its inception.  It’s a very special charity – you may not have heard of it before today – but it has been quietly caring for Gurkhas in need for 47 years, ensuring them a life free from hardship and pain, and repaying the debt of honour we all owe these loyal friends.”

Making a Difference with Welfare Pensions

Bishnu

Pictured above: Bishnu Tamang (second from left) delivering relief support in Nepal

Bishnu Tamang, an ex-Gurkha, is an avid supporter of The Gurkha Welfare Trust, and he also completed fundraising efforts for the earthquake that occurred in Nepal in 2015. His business, Gurkha Security Services, is an elite security provider and is directed and managed by former Armed Forces Gurkhas. His mother is currently one of the many widows receiving a Welfare Pension from The Gurkha Welfare Trust.

“My Dad was a Gurkha and he served from 1939 to 1945 in the Second World War from start to finish.

mum

Pictured above: Bishnu’s Mother

My mum is now 88, and my Dad passed away in 2000, while I was serving deep inside the northern part of Sierra Leone.

My Mum is eligible to come to the UK to live, but she said she would rather enjoy her life in Nepal. She receives a monthly pension from The Gurkha Welfare Trust. There are many elderly widows and retired Gurkhas in Nepal who receive welfare pensions from this charity. These pensions are often the main source of income for those forgotten soldiers and those left behind.”

Donations from The ID Band Company

The ID Band Company are proud to support The Gurkha Welfare Trust and the work it does. For every purchase made on the ID Band Company website via this affiliate link, we make a 15% donation to this worthy cause.

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