When Sarbe Tamang was 19 years old, recruiters came through the village looking for young men that were healthy enough to serve with the military, taking with them almost all of the young men in the village. These recruiters were with the Indian military which led Sarbe to learn Hindi language and become trained in map reading.
As a soldier in the infantry, he served in the India-Pakistan War of 1965 and in 1971 in Pakistan and in the Bangladesh War of Independence, also in 1971. He served a total of 22 years in the military, but his time there left him hard of hearing from exploding bombs.
Sarbe settled down and now has two sons, ages 25 and 22. Neither of his sons are married but he is trying to keep his younger son, who recently came home from working in Qatar for two years, from marrying before the older son.
Sarbe tries to keep cultural changes at bay but he sees much of it as out of his control. Traditional songs that used to be sung are being replaced by modern music. Bamboo that was used to build chicken houses are being replaced by cut wood. Sarbe said he used to barter chili for potatoes or other vegetables, but ten years later people sell their crops for cash.
We asked Sarbe how Aythos can help people like him. He said it’s hard to farm so many crops at his age. Getting trained on non-traditional crops that he can sell saves him a lot of effort.
Aythos has been observing many challenges of Nepal’s quickly changing society, just one of those being the effects on aging populations in communities with shrinking local family support. For those having lived a full life, like Sarbe, we will continue to seek out ways to create opportunity. An upcoming vegetable training, and our first in his village, should bring some new possibilities.
Aythos seeks to foster health and sustainable livelihoods in Himalayan communities. By sharing stories of those that we come across, we hope to inspire others to want to make a difference in people’s lives. We encourage your comments on these issues and your encouragement for the subjects of these stories. Please donate today to make sure we can make a difference in their communities.