For almost 200 years the gallant fighting men from Nepal, the Gurkhas, have helped fight our wars and keep our peace. In every major conflict since 1815, they have loyally answered the call for help from the British Crown. In both the Great War and the Second World War, 100,000 young Nepalese men stepped forward to service our country. Sadly, thousands paid the ultimate sacrifice to secure the peace we enjoy today.Once their service to the British Crown was done, these brave soldiers returned to their tranquil yet desperately poor hill villages in Nepal. Critically, many had not served the 15 years required to earn an Army pension. These courageous men now face a new battle – the battle to survive.
Nepal was, and remains to this day, one of the poorest countries on earth. Gurkhas who had fought with such distinction were destitute, living in makeshift homes with no income to cover even their most basic needs. It was clear something had to be done. The country owed these old soldiers a duty of care.
The Gurkha Welfare Trust was established in 1969 to relieve poverty and distress amongst ex-Gurkha soldiers and their dependents. Today, it is working in both Nepal and the UK.
The focus of its work is providing financial support and medical care for over 7,000 elderly Gurkha soldiers or their widows in Nepal. It provides a monthly Welfare Pension of 5,800 Nepalese Rupees (around £50)*; for the large majority of the Welfare Pensioners the pension is their only source of income and without it they would be destitute. It also gives each pensioner a one-off Winter Fuel Allowance every November to help with the additional fuel costs over the colder winter months, and emergency Hardship Grants are available to help in times of crises such as a flood, landslip or fire.
The Gurkha Welfare Trust also looks after their medical needs, from GP care to longer-term hospital treatment. We have 19 Medical Clinics across Nepal and employ 7 Doctors, 3 of whom are Mobile Medical Doctors who trek out to the isolated hillside homes of our pensioners to provide medical care. 6 District Nurses support families who are caring for bed-ridden pensioners. The costs of all prescriptions, surgery and treatment for more serious illnesses are covered by the Trust.
The Trust also runs two 26-bedroom Residential Homes in Nepal for those pensioners too frail to live at home and with no family members to care for them. The official opening of the second Home in Dharan, east Nepal, is in March 2014.
The Gurkha Welfare Trust also delivers vital community aid to the Gurkha hill villages, installing clean water and sanitation systems in 80 villages and refurbishing or rebuilding 75 schools each year. 8 Mobile Medical Camps are run each year in remote areas of Nepal. It is estimated that 50,000 people each year benefit from the Trust’s community aid programme.
There are now estimated to be around 11,000 Gurkha families living in the UK. The Trust continues its support, providing advice and information to those Gurkhas who have chosen to make their home here.
For more information on the work of The Gurkha Welfare Trust, contact them at:
The Gurkha Welfare Trust, PO Box 2171, 22 Queen Street, Salisbury SP2 2EX
Charity Registration No. 1103669