CHITWAN, Jan 3: The Chepang people living on the hill adjacent to Sauraha are economically so poor that they spend the nights beside the hearth for want of enough bedding clothes to keep themselves warm during the winter.
The hilly region in Chitwan district is predominantly settled by the Chepang people. Most of the population is economically poor and so cannot afford to buy quilts and blankets. So, they have to take recourse of fire.
Buddhi Bahadur Chepang of Hattibang, Icchakamana rural municipality -1, shared that he wakes up after the fire in the hearth goes out in the night and it begins to feel cold. “We fall asleep when the fire goes on and are awakened and spend the night shivering when it goes out,” said Buddhi Bahadur who lives with his eight children. He said that the children’s body has started swelling due to cold.
Ram Chandra Chepang of Bagsurang, Kalika Municipality said that it is even difficult to get firewood. As he said it has become difficult to protect the small kids and the older people from the cold due to the shortage of firewood.
Moreover, the Chepangs of this area are so poor that they even do not have warm clothes and they have to be beside the fire most of the time. As a result, they cannot go out in the field for work during the winter.
“It has been hard for us to protect the small children, the infirm, sick and the elderly people during the winter. Some vulnerable people have also died from cold,” shared Reshmika Chepang of the same locality (Bagsurang).
Bhim Bahadur Chepang of Siraichuri also expressed annoyance over their condition. He said that he’s finding it hard to protect his two kids from the cold. He said they do not have warm clothes, bedding and even food grain.
The condition of Bhakta Bahadur Chepang is not much better. “We keep ourselves warm by the fire. We sleep beside the hearth and wake up once the fire goes out and stay close together the rest of the night,” he lamented.
There is only little quantity of maize, millet, orange and leafy vegetables in most of the houses in the Chepang settlements in the area. Those who have saved money earned from daily wage labor buy rice from the market.
Chairperson of Ichhakamana rural municipality, Geeta Gurung, said the situation of almost every household in the rural municipality is the same. Out of the total population of 25,000 in the village, more than 9000 are Chepangs. She said the local administration office has given 150 blankets to the rural municipality office recently for distribution to the vulnerable families. RSS