Poor Chepangs struggle to survive winter

Chitwan, January 5

The Chepangs living on the hill adjacent to Sauraha are so poor that they have to spend nights sitting around fire for want of enough clothes to keep themselves warm during winter.

The hilly region in Chitwan district is predominantly settled by Chepang people. Most of the Chepangs are poor and they cannot afford to buy quilts and blankets. So, they sit around the fire to keep themselves warm.

Buddhi Bahadur Chepang of Hattibang, Icchakamana Rural Municipality-1, shared that he made fire to keep themselves warm at night and every night was like a nightmare. He said children had to suffer a lot due to cold.

Ram Chandra Chepang of Bagsurang, Kalika Municipality, said it was even difficult to get firewood.

Moreover, the Chepangs of this area have not been able to carry out their daily work in their fields due to excessive cold and lack of warm clothes.“Children and elderly people are at high risk,” said Reshmika Chepang.

Bhim Bahadur Chepang of Siraichuri said that he was finding it hard to protect his two kids from cold. He said they did not even have anything to feed their children, let alone provide them  warm clothes. Bhakta Bahadur Chepang also shares  the same plight. We keep ourselves warm by making fire and are compelled to spend sleepless nights,” he lamented.

There is only little quantity of maize, millet, orange and leafy vegetables left in most of the houses in the Chepang settlements of the area. Those who have saved money earned from daily wage labour buy rice from market.

Chairperson of Ichhakamana Rural Municipality Geeta Gurung said the situation of every household in the rural municipality was same. Of the total 25,000 population in the village, more than 9,000 are Chepangs. She said the local administration office had given 150 blankets to the rural municipality office recently to be distributed to the vulnerable families of Chepang settlements.