Some people find shelters for senior citizens depressing and avoid visiting them as a result. This was my initial impression at the Pashupati Bridhashram, a home for elderly people in Nepal. But after spending over six months with the seniors there, I was inexplicably uplifted. The stress of homesickness from living in Kathmandu without family was wiped out. I felt fortunate to have a family, as many of the senior citizens no longer did, and even though they had lost loved ones and possessions, they still cared for each other and retained a deep sense of humanity.
The story of how they ended up in the home was almost always the same: in their old age they had become a burden on their families who admitted them at Pashupati. For the elderly however, it was sometimes a relief that they were in such a holy place and didn’t have to bear the taunts of living in a house in which they were no longer welcome. But none of them came willingly, nor did they have anywhere else to go.
Pashupati Bridhashram has a limited budget as it is run by the Government. The facility is congested, short-staffed, and shows signs of gross mismanagement. Regardless of the living conditions, its residents had found their new family among the strangers.