Old couple sightless, homeless, helpless

- Bimal Khatiwada, Chitwan
Couple say they have given up hope to regain eyesight as they cannot afford treatment

Jan 4, 2016-The hardships of an elderly visually-impaired couple have been compounded since the April earthquake damaged their house in Chitwan.

Dam Bahadur Chepang, 92, and wife Saunimaya, 95, of an impoverished Chepang community at Sarling in Lothar-8 have no money to rebuild their house. They are risking their lives by staying on in the dilapidated house. Unable to work and earn, they have difficulties arranging for essentials.

“We cannot walk easily. We have to crawl while cultivating crops on our farmland,” said Saunimaya. They have no choice but to feel the way up to the forest to collect fodder and firewood.

Dam Bahadur lost sight five years ago while Saunimaya became unable to see seven years ago. Devoid of enough bedding or warm clothes, they make a fire to beat the chill at night.

“We have no money to buy warm clothes. The fire has kept us alive,” said Dam Bahadur. Sometimes they are hurt sitting around the fire, at others their clothes get burnt. The couple said they have given up hope to regain eyesight as they cannot afford treatment.

“I don’t know what happened to my eye. I can’t see anything now,” said Saunimaya. In the lack of the citizenship certificate, she has been deprived of the social security allowance. However, the old man collects the government’s monthly dole.

The couple has five sons but they stay in places up to an hour’s walk away. Dam Bahadur said he and his wife have no foodgrains—they could not grow crops this year. “We often go to bed on empty stomach,” he said. They, however, plan to collect some wild roots for food.

Occasionally, their sons and grandchildren bring them foodstuff. They long for living in a new house and eating to their hearts’ content. Although the government has built houses for displaced Chepangs in some areas, Dam Bahadur said they were neglected.

“The government provides relief only to the people in contact. There’s no one who sees our plight,” he rued.

Published: 04-01-2016 08:46

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