Kathmandu, 27 Oct 2014: Gitadevi Dhimal, an elderly woman of 70 from Rupandehi district has been a breadwinner to herself. But her occupation is begging. And as a footloose, she is of no address for her job keeps taking her places in the capital.
Begging is certainly not a choice for Dhimal, a wealthy widow who has been brought to the street by her own offspring after her three sons forcefully seized her husband’s property following his death. That was not all, they expelled her from her own house.
Old and fragile Dhimal, unable to assume the ownership over her husband’s properties, thereafter left for Kathmandu. The rest is history for her.
Similarly, Kalpana Sah, another elderly woman of 71 from Bara district, has been earning her livelihood by begging for the past three years in Kathmandu.
One fine day, in course of travelling Kathmandu with her son and daughter-in-law, they left her desolate from a place in the capital not known to her.
Hopeless and hapless, Sah resorted to beggary thereby. She makes some Rs 300 to 400 a day which she spends in fending herself.
Quite a way to make money, one may think. But she explained, “People may feel that begging is an easy means to make money but I am doing it by compulsion.”
Society scorns beggars as evil-street and beggary as an easy way to make money.Â But for Dhimal and Sah, the abandoned elderly, life was not so giving and thus begging became the ultimate choice as all other options ran out.
After all, beggars could not be choosers.
The sight of Dhimal and Sah-like elderly begging is common in Kathmandu.
“Many like them are either abandoned by their own families or those who chose street to their kin so as to live their life at their own free will,” Mahaa Prasad Parajuli, the chairperson of Senior Citizen Struggle Committee (SCSC), earlier had shared with RSS.
SCSC, a committee of senior citizen advocating for the rights of elderly people, has been organizing a sit-in protest in Manbhawan, Kathmandu, for the past 20 months pressing for the fulfillment of their eight-point demand.
Not a single demand of the protesters has been heeded by the government despite 10 participants out of some 300 elderly aged 60-98 years have died so far.
As many as the elderly sitting in the protest or those begging in the street like Dhimal and Sah are abandoned by their children.
And those forced footloose are compelled to live a pedestrian life, while their children enjoy the best of both worlds.
When asked if the government has any plans and programmes towards these elderly beggars, Mira Serchan, the chief of the Senior Citizen Protection Division at Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare, said, “The Ministry has no action plan on this as of now. But we can rehabilitate them to the elderly shelter if they come in contact with us.”
The number of the elderly is increasing in the country in the recent decade due to improved health care and growing life expectancy.
Senior citizens, according to the latest census, comprise 2.6 million of the total population in Nepal. (Note- The government of Nepal has identified people only above 70 years as senior citizen).
The Nepali society, primarily emphasizing the concept of a joint family, is adopting the western concept of nuclear family.
The revering behavioral attitude towards the elder member in the family is also gradually eroding, opined the elderly, who are left at lurch by their families and also uncared for by the state.
Source: RSS andÂ Sushil Darnal