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RH Sticker

Reaping Hope released this sticker on 12 August 2014 (International Youth Day). The quote in the sticker reads, Today’s youth are the elders of tomorrow; it’s about time we think. Let’s not despise the elderly, let’s have all the respect to give”.

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‘Standing Against Elder Abuse’ is A short video by Reaping Hope to mark the 9th World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2014.

Elder abuse is a major problem today, not just because of its severity but also because most of these cases are hidden. A large number of senior citizens face abuse everyday either one way or the other. And most of the abusers are none other than their own family members. The voices of senior citizens are not heard because they are unable to stand up on their own and now it’s time we raise our voices against elder abuse. This is a call to all youths to unite and stand against elder abuse, a request to initiate small steps to minimize abuse happening daily, knowingly or unknowingly. Know that your parents/grandparents and any other senior citizens are an important part of the society and help them live a dignified life in their golden years.

 

 Proof of citizenship has become key; yet, vulnerable groups are struggling to get their citizenship cards

Political talk in Nepal is ubiquitous at the moment. Whether at home or in tea shops, whether the interlocutors are young or old, no conversation is completed without discussing which party will win the election and what will happen next. Many anticipate that the first priority will be the constitution.

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to spend some time in an old age home a few minutes from where I live, talking to its founder and the elderly women who reside there. Already thrilled to be talking to the few grandmothers who were vocal and expressive with their views about the elections and the constitution, my interest escalated when the conversation shifted towards the citizenship issue, old age allowance and its links to the constitution. These women hoped that the to-be-written constitution will have clear provisions for elderly people and that the old age allowance will be given to any elderly person without age bias or other similar limitations.

Rs 500 a month

The sad reality is that out of the eight elderly women, only two have been receiving allowances, while the rest expressed their disappointment in not receiving anything despite being eligible. One main reason was that they did not have citizenship. It then occurred to me that they would not have been able to vote. I was previously unaware of this situation.

Here is a little background about the role of citizenship and old age allowance. The universal old age allowance in Nepal is defined as such: applicable to Dalits who are of 60 years and above, and 70 years and above for other social groups. Every eligible elderly citizen is entitled to Rs 500 per month. To be eligible, each person must undergo a registration process, which requires the citizenship card as proof of identity. Without citizenship, one cannot start the process. In fact, one cannot start any process, not even for a voter card.

When I inquired whether anything had been done to begin the process for these elderly women to acquire their citizenship, the lady who runs the home replied that despite trying many times, making frequent trips to respective places and even visiting the close relatives of these elderly, it was all in vain. “One elderly who lives here has been abandoned by her family members. She is old enough to acquire benefits. I made many trips to her place to talk about the citizenship issue and see if they could help with the process, but I failed,” she said.

Deprived of benefits

The other elderly women were brought in directly from the streets or rescued from difficult situations and given shelter at the home. Such scenarios, where it is no one’s fault that they don’t possess citizenship, leave these elderly people deprived of the benefits and rights they are entitled to. I also found out that a few elderly women had died without getting a chance to enjoy the benefits provided by the state, something they lamented till their very last breath. Moreover, they expressed bitterness and helplessness that despite efforts, officials could not modify the laws regarding citizenship requirements.

This brings us to loopholes within the social protection mechanism that the state has for the ageing population and it reminds us of how obscure this mechanism is. Despite previous research highlighting how elderly men and women have to walk for hours in order to obtain the allowance or how they have to face untimely distributions of allowances, I feel the issue of citizenship is a more serious and contentious one. To be recognised as a senior citizen, there is no way around getting a citizenship card. There are senior citizens who have gone on for years without ever having to show any proof of their citizenship. However, times have changed and identification has become key to all rights, and yet, the most vulnerable groups have been left out.

Categorization helps

If identification is as crucial as it seems to be, why are these elderly people not able to receive it and what can be done to help them? The question in the policy debate points again to whether the elderly people need to be categorized based on their individual situations. For example, as those living with family members, who are supported in every step of their lives; those living alone without the support of family members; those abandoned and living on the streets or in old age homes; and those living with disabilities. Furthermore, such categories can help identify the most vulnerable people so that support can be provided. Moreover, it is also important to understand the role of citizenship in the lives of these elders. That these elderly women were not able to vote in the election as they did not have citizenship is a huge concern, as they are certainly entitled to the right to vote.

For elderly people living in old age homes, the people running the home are like their family. Hence, instead of having to locate a family member or a place where they originally came from as criteria to obtain citizenship, I believe that the state should be able to provide them with citizenship under the name of their foster caretaker. Such a provision can be abused if not handled well, due to duplication and other forms of fraud, but an alternative solution to the one where a family member has to be located needs to exist. If not, with the increasing ageing population, a majority will suffer and be deprived of their rights to social security benefits.

One elderly woman from the home who receives the allowance stated, “I want the constitution to be written and I wish that my friends who are not getting the allowance will get it under the new government.” The voice of senior citizens calls for the writing of the constitution and their hopes are pinned on a new and committed government. The debate between owning a citizenship card as proof of identity as opposed to calling oneself a citizen of a certain country without having a form of evidence is food for thought.

With Nepal’s ageing population on the rise, elderly people form a crucial segment of our communities. Now is a golden opportunity for elected politicians to prove that they have given thought to these sensitive issues and demonstrate that they can solve this problem.

KC is a researcher for Livelihoods, Basic Services and Social Protection at the Nepal Centre for Contemporary

 Research: SONY KC

Source: The Kathmandu Post, (November 22, 2013)

 

Chitwan, Bhadra 18,

The elderly Bhujel couple, 89-year-old Pabahadur Bhujel and his wife 79-year-old Belimaya, of Dhading, Taparsu, finds it hard to forget about the cave they lived in and still reminisces about the past. They now think of their belongings that they left in the cave before coming to reside in Divyasewa Niketan at Churiyamai-3, Ratomate, Makwanpur. Pabahadur said, “There were oil, spices, salt, some rice and maize and wheat flour in the cave,” and wished to go to the cave to observe the cave as well as bring in their belongings.

After living a lonely life in cave because of poverty, they are now friends with other elderly in the old age home; Bhawanath Pandey, Masinimaya Shrestha, Saraswati Niraula and Tilrupa Gautam. There are other two elderly Lamas there in the ashram. Smoking is prohibited in the ashram; therefore, they want to visit the cave for to quench their thirst of smoking too. “They give us sweets instead of cigarettes,” said Belimaya with chocolate in her hands, “how can this replace the addiction of cigarettes.”

The cave they lived in before was quite open and unsafe. “We have beds and life is more easy and comfortable here; however, we still love the care,” Belimaya said. She continued, “It is hard to forget the place that gave us shelter when we had no place to go.”

They ended up living in the cave of Dhading, Dhaireni, after becoming homeless two years ago. “Someone from our own village bought our land but did not give us a penny,” Pabahadur said, “and we became homeless.”

They do not have to beg for food here in ashram as opposed to when living in the cave. Fulmaya Basnet, another elderly in the ashram cooks for everyone there.  Mina Waiba who also looks after the ashram helps everyone out there.

The couple, who had found shelter in the cave after they had nowhere to go, was rescued by Buddhiprasad Regmi of Kathmandu and retired Gurkha, Purnabahadur Gurung, on Bhadra 7, and was rehabilitated at Divyasewa Niketan located in Ratomate, Makwanpur.

The ashram is under construction with an aim to provide shelter to 200 elderly. There are nine elderly now along with the Bhujel couple. The ashram, in the midst of the jungle, is under construction with well facilitated building, hall and hospital according to the Director, Tejram Niraula. After working as an army engineer all his life, he now wants to dedicate his life in social service.

Belimaya, the ninth wife.

It has not been long since Pabahadur and Belimaya met each other.  After the death of her husband, it was hard for Belimaya to meet ends while her three children were busy in their own lives. She had to beg for food after not being able to live with them. On the other hand, Pabahadur, still childless even after marrying eight wives, was working alone in mill. “I had soft corner for her when she asked for food every day.” When his Sahu suggested him to live together with her since both of them were alone, he heeded his Sahu’s words, sold his house so as to eat good food as he had no children. Sadly, he got no money out of it.” He further added that he was not given any money telling that the loan taken by his father got nil now. For Belimaya, Pabahadur holds a place higher than the stone god. However, Pabahadur’s favorite is Bishnumaya out of all nine wives. “The first marriage happened when I was still a child. I was unaware about what marriage was and hence it did not work out.” He said, “I married Bishnumaya after liking her. She passed away after 15 years of marriage without bearing any child.” “After that, I married six wives but no one lived more than a year or two.”

Source: Nagarik Daily , September 04, 2013.
Translated by: Janu Rai 

 

In Nepal, although the ageing population is increasing rapidly, the awareness on the issue among the public has not been able to catch up. People are still unaware of the speed of population ageing, its effects, and challenges surrounding it. Unlike developed countries, a majority of the population still lives in rural areas without access to most of the information, and the population with access to such information does not seem to show interest in it as the nation has other important issues to deal with. A major problem for senior citizens in a developing country like Nepal is Negligence. There are no strong rules or acts against everyday domestic elder abuse, rights of senior citizen or any strong development efforts for ever increasing older population.

With this in mind, Reaping Hope aims to spread the information and raise awareness about the speed of population ageing, elder abuse, neglect and violence against older persons, and more generally, about the experience of being old in our changing world.

Please circulate this video to your circle!!!!

 

Bhaktapur: Minister for Women, Children and Social Welfare, Riddhibaba Joshi, has said that senior citizens are the assets of the society.

Inaugurating a two-day training related to management of old age here today, Minister Joshi said that it was necessary to make rightful management of valuable knowledge and skill of the senior citizens.

She pointed out the need of amending provisions related to facility of senior citizens in policy-level, as there is a provision of providing facilities to senior citizens only after 70 years of age by the state even if the law states that those above 60 are senior citizens.

Admitting that a policy giving rightful justice could not be made, Minister Joshi said that the government has forwarded different services including free treatment to senior citizens.

She pointed out the need of building paid elderly homes due to changing times and society.

On the occasion, Joint Secretary at the Ministry, Purna Bhakta Tandukar, said that senior citizens are not only the national problem but also seen as an international problem and added that attention should be paid to minimize problems seen in the society.

Similarly, Chief District Officer of Bhaktapur, Himnath Dawadi, said that situation of the senior citizens of being helpless has come due to the increasing trend of sons and daughters going abroad.

Source: The Rising Nepal, May 8, 2013

Kathmandu Poush 6 – Different government, non government and other concerned parties working on Elderly Citizens’ social security and Human rights claimed that solving the problems that Elder Citizens are facing is being a hard process because the civilians are not getting enough positive messages on the issue. An interaction program on the subject ‘Social security for Senior Citizens – Problems and their solutions’ was held on the 21st of Dec, where they said that the problems are not being taken seriously because of lack of awareness in general people’s minds.

Although the census of 2068 showed the results of decreasing child population and an increment in the population of senior citizens, the government has been unable to increase the share of budget for Senior Citizens’ benefit, say the concerned parties. Insufficient budget, inappropriate policies and lack of public awareness is hindering the problem solving of Senior Citizens, they added.

Although the number of Senior Citizens have increased up to almost 22,00,000; the budget distributed for senior citizens is only Rs. 2,50,000, says Surya Shrestha, deputy secretary- Ministry of Womwn, Children and Social Welfare. The policies addressing the problems are relatively stronger today but the weakness in the execution of those policies is adding up to the problem, he adds. Mr. Shrestha also argued that, in the case of Senior Citizens, the civilians seem more concerned than the government and the nation should be more concerned about the social security and rights of Senior Citizens.

A senior citizen, recently retired from the government service, Mr. Jayram Nepal said, at this time of government’s carelessness on the issue, organizations and aware citizens should act on researching and study the issue so they could pressure the government to act upon the issue. According to Dr. Padam Khatiwada, Vice Principal, Tribhuvan University, the senior citizens are being neglected by their own offsprings mainly due to property matters.

The President of the organization Sankalpa Nepal, Kamala Parajuli explained about how the government is turning a blind eye on the issues of the elderly and for that reason, Sankalpa Nepal will constantly work on pressuring the government to take  this issue into consideration.

Source – Gorkhapatra Daily, December 23rd, 2012

Image credit: Reaping Hope

Dear Friends,

Reaping Hope has been publishing monthly e-newsletter titled “Standing Against Elder Abuse” on every second week on the month. Kindly find latest issue of the e-newsletter, click the image to get full e-newsletter, or follow the given link, http://mad.ly/2e5853

Agence France Presse
A pensioner has been granted citizenship certificate more than a century after she was born in a remote village of Nepal.

Krishna Kumari Gharti, a 105-year-old widow who lives in Pakhapani village in the mountainous district of Parbat, one day’s walk from the nearest road, was among a group of residents to be given identity cards for the first time.

“Our officials travelled to the village after hearing complaints that many were deprived of citizenship,“ Tek Bahadur KC, Parbat District Administrative Officer told AFP by telephone. “Her name was registered in our list of elderly who were receiving the monthly allowance. So we granted her the citizenship card. She was very happy,“ he said. “Most of these people living in the villages generally don’t venture out of the place. They are also hardly involved in any businesses. That’s why they spend their lives without citizenship”.

When Gharti was born, Nepal was largely closed to the outside world and maintained a subsistence economy under the autocratic Rana dynasty of hereditary prime ministers.

Although it modernised over the 20th century, Nepal’s rugged topography and lack of roads mean it is still difficult for villagers in isolated districts to visit local government offices to obtain citizenship cards.

According to the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR, 800,000 people in Nepal are `stateless persons’ without the rights and benefits of Nepali citizens, although the government disputes this figure.

Post your views!!!

Mr. Binod Thapa Magar talking about Reaping Hope with WOW.

We are glad to present this article about the views of Mr. Binod Thapa Magar, President, Reaping Hope published on WOW. WOW (World of Women) is a monthly magazine that writes on various contemporary issues focusing on women’s issue. RH is proud to share it with all the readers, and would also like to thank Ms. Pretty Limbu, editor, WOW, for the write-ups.

(Zoom-in the photo to read full article as it might not be readable.)

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