I am very sorry to report some sad news out of Pharping.
Two of the elderly women who lived at the elder care home there have passed away from old age. They were both considered very old by Nepal standards. While one woman had a difficult life prior to being brought to the elder care home, we can safely say that these last ten years with Shaha were a good life for her.
Sahili Tamang Sahili Tamang (her last name denotes she was of the Tamang tribe) was one of the first residents at the elder care home, along with her husband. Sahili was at least 80 years old. I will remember her as being a bit of a troublemaker, but always gracious in the end. She would say her prayers every morning and then give me a tika — a blessing on my forehead to protect me during the day. Every day, Sahili would walk to the Hindu temple and Buddhist shrine on the grounds. She’d meet with three incredibly ancient women (all three more than 90 years of age!), and together they would walk up the back road to worship. When they invited me to join them one day, I ran around picking flowers to take as an offering. I do not know how her husband is handling her death. She passed away from natural causes in January.
Before I could gather enough info to share with you, we lost another woman to old age. Ramdevi was brought to the elder care home by the local police, who’d found her in the streets. She was nearing 80 years of age. Shaha told me that she could only remember her husband, who used to be a driver. She said he would bring home his pay from work and give it to her to manage, instead of using it on liquor the way other husbands in Nepal do. Ramdevi also recalls that he would buy her clothes. Even though she told Shaha that she had two daughters and one son, she can’t recall where she’s from, or where her kids might be. Shaha has had no way to contact her family since she was brought to the home. It would appear her kids have not tried to find her.
Shaha is grieving deeply. He stayed by their bedsides at the hospital, emailing me only brief updates. He didn’t want them to die alone.
The cost of these funerals fell to Shaha and his friends and donors. The bodies of Hindus are burned on a funeral pyre, partly as a way to show the soul that there is no body to return to, and so they must move on. Up until the 1960s, women were expected to sit on the funeral pyre of their deceased husbands and be burned alive, in a practice known as sati. Yes, right up until the ’60s, widows had no value as humans.
We will be sending money to Shaha to help with food and housing expenses for the Gregorian month of February, as a way to help with these unexpected funeral costs. If you’d like to help, we’d appreciate it.
Please take care of yourselves, and tell your loved ones how much you appreciate them. Life is short.
President and Founder
The Global Humanity Initiative