By Eduardo Klien, HelpAge Regional Representative for Asia
Throughout our lives there are people we respect and admire. Some are great political leaders, others humble citizens. But in general, they are people who inspire us with their thoughts or actions, with the footprint, the ethical example they leave, big or small. Those are the ones we call “our heroes”. Dr Das is one of them.
I met Dr Gourishakar Laldas – Dr Das- back in 2008, in Nepal, his home country. Stephen Kidd – the then policy director of HelpAge International – and I were visiting older people’s associations near Kathmandu, and Dr Das was proudly showing us their achievements.
He was short, impeccable in his presence, rather formal, always wearing a suit and tie. He was kind, affable and genuinely interested in every person around him. A few years later, during the Asia Pacific Regional Conference in 2014, we were looking for someone who could give some introductory remarks. Dr Das was the person; all he needed was 20 minutes to write down some ideas, which he expressed in a very memorable speech.
Since then, we have continued corresponding about personal issues, projects, concerns about the pandemic, the rights of older people. He is always warm, lucid, concerned for others. Through the years he has continued working tirelessly for older people, first as President of the National Senior Citizen’s Federation of Nepal and member of the Nepali Human Rights Commission. Currently as President of the BP Eye Foundation.
Dr Das is close to turning 98 years old. In a recent letter he told me “I got over the Covid 19 infection twice – thank God – steam inhalation and Yoga!!”. Clear testimony of his positive spirit! No mountain, no obstacle, and no pandemic can prevent “our” Dr Das from actively engaging in Webinars and discussions on the MIPAA review, or in anything that has to do with the rights and wellbeing of older people in Nepal and in the region.
I, together with all his friends and admirers, look forward to celebrating his 100th anniversary together, in Nepal.