At my first visit to Nepal I discovered the only elderly home situated inside an old 18th century temple. I tried to sneak a peak through the cracks of the old wooden gate. What I saw and what I heard about the place, I didnt dare to go inside. At home, remembering the place, I knew I had to enter the next time I stood in front of this gate.
Old people in Nepal are usually safe and secure within their family structures: Several generations live under one roof and the elderly are looked after by their children and grandchildren. However, if they have remained childless, at some point they will have no other choice than to hope for support in the Elderly’s Home. The migration of the young generation into the cities is another reason why the old people are left behind by themselves. The offspring, now successful and wealthy in Kathmandu, do not want to deal with their unbearable parents and grandparents anymore. They are pushed off into the Elderly’s Home. In the faces of the new residents you can see the disappointment and frustration of having lost their homes, their self-determined lives and the loss of the ancient tradition of family alliances.
So the second time I'm in Pashupatinath, I go into the temple and for 3 days I walk this to our eyes unwelcoming place. Yet the more I get to know the ways of the people and their daily lives, I get to see their helpfulness and open-heartedness to each other. There are only a view volunteers and nuns to help the elders, but most of the time they depend on each other.
The Elderly’s Home is situated on the banks of the Bagmati River in Pashupatinath, the holiest place in Nepal. Kathmandu’s dead are burned on funeral pyres at the Ghats. The old people derive comfort from the knowledge that, upon their death, they also will be burned at this holy place and thereby will reach a good position for the next life in the cycle of reincarnation.