Needs in today’s world
A few years ago I lost my parents. During the mourning period, I suffered from the loss because I had a very close and good relationship with them. They were very socially minded and always convinced me how important social commitment is. To follow their path I thought a lot about it and came up with the idea to found the Lila-Radhika Humanitarian Senior Citizen Center.
This organization was founded in 2013 with the help of my friends. The main office is located in Radhika Niwas (Kathmandu Metropole Ward No. 10, New Baneshwor Thapa Gaun Saraswati Marg 290)
One of the social projects of Lira-Haus called “Door to the Future for Nepalese Children” was carried out from December 2015 to January 2016 at Mithila Art Gallery in Thamel, Kathmandu, in collaboration with German artist Karl Küffel and Nepalese artists, Mahesh Acharya and Sundar Yadav. In this art project, children painted their thoughts and ideas on the theme “Future for Children in Nepal” on empty door panels. In order to help these children, we decided to support them in their further development up to high school graduation. This project has also helped me to ease the pain of losing my parents and to continue the social community spirit in their memory.
The Lila Radhika organization depends on financial donations for its work.
Some friends are actively involved in the realization of the center in Nepal. In this way we maintain a good connection with related bodies and meet different organizations working in the same or similar field.
In 2010, with the help of some friends, I founded the association “Deutsche humanitäre Initiative für Südasien e. V.” (Sathi e. V.) in Berlin. This association helps migrants. I work there as a voluntary social advisor. We advise and accompany migrants from South Asia who live in Berlin. Mainly we support seriously ill and elderly people in cooperation with Dong Ban Ja the intercultural outpatient hospice, a project of the Humanist Association Berlin-Brandenburg KdöR (HVD).
The constructive and positive cooperation with the HVD and the support of leading staff members (especially former chairman of the board Manfred Isemeyer and his wife Andrea Käthner-Isemeyer) gave me courage and support to further develop the project “Lila-Radhika” (LIRA HOUSE).
In 2018, with the support of these two people, I had the opportunity to visit Nepal with 18 social workers from Germany. On this study trip, I was able to explain to them vividly why such a project is so important in Nepal.
Influenced by the impressions gained, we have decided to step up our efforts to promote this model project.
My motivation for social engagement
I was born in the western part of Nepal (in Palpa) in a peasant family. Since there was no hotel in our village, it was common for transients and visitors to stay and eat in private houses for free. So often my parents’ house hosted guests.
I remember my parents always saying, “No one should be hungry or naked, and people should be able to sleep under a roof.”
For my university studies, I went in 1985to Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. It was my first trip to the big city. I was alone and it became my daily routine to visit Pashupatinath (sacred temple for Hindus) in my free time. There I could observe people dying and the regular activities and rituals associated with it. The scenario included viewing dead bodies being burned on the temple grounds. Furthermore, I was able to observe sadhus, ascetic wandering monks, and elderly homeless people who were forced to live in the temple.
These experiences and observations sparked my interest in getting involved in a social field. I became curious to learn more about social life and society.
The experiences and observations described before reinforced my realizations that nothing remains of one after death. I realized that I wanted to do something for needy old people during my lifetime. However, without the appropriate knowledge, education and money, this is not possible. My firm goal was to make my vision of social help a success.
Through hard work and great commitment, I managed to become a lawyer and get a job in the Nepalese government service. During my service, I was also able to work for the UN. On one mission, while on duty, I had a serious accident that almost cost me my life.
I was able to be resuscitated. This drastic experience has shaped my attitude towards the subject of dying and death up to the present day.
Two years after returning from the UN mission, I decided to continue my studies. For this purpose I came to Berlin and, after finishing my university education, started working here.
At that time, my father was already 93 years old and my mother 84. Since they were no longer so stable of health as well as their old age worried me. I was the youngest child in the family and had a special relationship to my parents. This meant that they also had special expectations of me. These included the duty to care for them in their old age and to look after them.
During my absence, my two brothers, who also lived with my parents in the same village, took care of them. Unfortunately, both died shortly before my parents died. This stroke of fate put me in a difficult situation. How could I explain my parents that I could not come back to Nepal to take care of them? It was also not possible to take them to Germany because of their state of health. However, I was able to arrange for my older brother’s daughter to take care of my parents respectively her grandparents. This solved the problem for the time being and I could return to Berlin.
Back in Berlin, however, my thoughts were still with my parents. Suddenly, my mother had a heart attack. Her condition worsened from day to day. I was very worried about her. At her home there was no way to take care of her properly. I immediately flew to Nepal and tried my best to find good medical care for her. At the same time, I started looking for a place for her in a nursing home with good care and accommodation. Unfortunately, I could not find a single institution or place for my parents to entrust them to.
The situation became more and more difficult. I blamed myself a lot for not being able to give them the help I imagined. I was unable to leave my job in Berlin to care for my parents at home, even though I loved them dearly. There was no alternative. So I asked my niece if she could take care of my parents. I provided all the necessary things she needed to stay with them at my parents’ house.
On the way back to Berlin, I thought a lot about my personal situation, the Nepalese social and health system, the mentality of the people there and their idea of having a small, happy family. I was preoccupied with the idea of the attraction of studying or working abroad for young people and the consequence of older people being left alone in the village. The result of my reflections was the creation of an institution that takes care of elderly people at the end of life, providing them with protection, food, shelter, love and good care.
That was the beginning of „LIRA-HOUSE“
Many children look for such places where their parents can live safely and be better cared for when they can no longer stay at home. Upheavals and social changes in the last century have had significant consequences even for previously intact families. Children leave the parental home to study and/or work domestically and/or abroad. As a result, direct family support for parents is often becoming difficult or almost impossible. At present, there is hardly any additional social or legal protection and provision in Nepal.
Meanwhile, there are many elderly people who have no children to take care of them. Many of these elderly people are mentally and/or financially no longer able to care for themselves and therefore need to be taken care of.
My idea is that through our organization, these people will have the opportunity to spend their twilight years in dignity. Nepal needs senior centers so that old people are not forced to spend the end of their lives in temples or on the street.
The goal must be to provide these needy, sick, elderly people with care, protection and support in a livable atmosphere. LIRA HOUSE should not only be a place for financially and socially weak people, it is also intended for people whose children can no longer take care of their parents.
Our creed is therefore: In the last phase of their lives, all people must be able to live in dignity and die in peace.