It’s Not Just a Village: A Senior Citizens’ Sanctuary

Manoj Regmi

Times have indeed changed and with them, the very fabric of our villages has undergone a significant transformation. In the wake of federalization in Nepal, a noticeable shift has swept through the heartlands, reaching even the most remote corners. The clamor for progress reverberates in the rush to lay down motorways, promising employment opportunities that echo from house to house. Yet, amidst this hurricane of change, a flicker of hope remains, albeit faint. Cattle still graze in the barns, vegetables flourish in the gardens, and fields sway with the rhythm of paddy and corn. However, the vibrancy of youth seems conspisscuously absent. Without their presence, the essence of a village, once bustling with vitality, appears to fade.

As our country undergoes significant reforms, the aspirations of villagers evolve in parallel. Children, upon completing their 10th grade, embark on migrations to urban centers, and those who finish high school are drawn to foreign shores. The trend of overseas migration has permeated rural life, with every household harboring dreams of distant lands. Conversations now echo with tales of sons and daughters venturing to Japan or America, leaving behind aging parents to tend to the homestead. The pressure on youth to seek fortunes abroad mounts, fueling a relentless pursuit of wealth.

At a first glance, consider a village nestled within Bhirkot Municipality-8 of Syangja District, named Badhare-Angetari, is like any other village in Nepal. Most houses were traditionally built from mud or cement, with roofs made of tin. Almost every house has a shed for a cow or a buffalo. Amid the rugged terrains, it’s hard to miss young men plowing their farms with a pair of ox, uttering “Hoi, Hoi” every few seconds and whipping the animal with a dry bamboo stick to make it move faster on the field. But on the inside, this is a village that tells the story about what is happening all over the country. Over the last decade, a growing number of Nepali young men and women are leaving their homes in hopes of finding better jobs and earning a better salary in countries across the Middle East. “Here in this village, almost every single house has sent a son or a daughter to work in the Gulf, Europe and other various countries” said Ravi Thapa, a reporter who covers the region for a national newspaper.

Though the village Badhare-Angetari is modest in size, with just ten households, more than half of its members have embarked on journeys to faraway lands, and shifted in the urban. While their absence brings prosperity in the form of remittances, it also leaves behind a void, particularly for the elderly left behind. The village, once teeming with youth, now echoes with the whispers of time-worn tales, its landscape dotted with greying heads and weathered hands.

Descending from the village lies in Brahmin community and flanked by Gurung and Magar settlements, totaling twenty households. Yet, the youthful vigor that once defined these hamlets is noticeably absent. In their stead, elderly figures toil in the fields, their bodies weary from labor, while others find solace in the warmth of their hearths, longing for the touch of absent children. Despite the influx of remittances, happiness remains elusive, as familial bonds erode under the weight of financial pursuits.

The difficulties because of the absence of these villages reflects a larger narrative unfolding across the nation-a migration fueled by economic aspirations, leaving behind a trail of hollowed-out communities. The inspiration of urban life, driven by the promise of remittances, threatens to extinguish the essence of rural existence. However, amidst this turmoil lies an opportunity for renewal-a chance to reclaim the soul of the village and revitalize rural economies.

As the tide of migration ebbs and flows, there arises a prospect of rejuvenation. Returned migrants, armed with newfound skills, hold the key to unlocking the potential of rural communities. By harnessing their expertise, villages can transition into hubs of agricultural and rural tourism, offering a glimpse into the authenticity of rural life. Governments at all levels must seize this opportunity to facilitate infrastructure development and promote sustainable tourism initiatives. While the beautiful life of urban life may tempt the youth, the heart of the nation beats in its villages. By nurturing these communities, we can bridge the rural-urban divide and usher in an era of inclusive development.

Meanwhile, as young men and women have gone to foreign countries for work, women are often involved in development and other work in the village. Even when someone is sick in the village, no man can be found to carry them to the health facility. The youths are forced to go to foreign because the government does not create any possibility of employment in their own place. Despite the changes in the system, the pain of the Nepali villagers has not changed. As a result, the Nepali villages becomes a “Senior Citizens’ Sanctuary”. Together, let us embark on this journey of transformation, where every village becomes a beacon of prosperity and heritage.


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