KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — A group of Nepal's Gurkhas serving in the British army have rushed back home to lend a hand in the recovery from the massive earthquake.
The soldiers from the Queen's Gurkha Engineers Unit on Thursday set up a portable water purification unit on the grounds of what used to a royal palace in the Nepalese capital. The monarchy was abolished in 2008.
"I am just glad I could serve my countrymen when they really needed something so necessary like clean drinking water," said Cpl. Bhesh Gurung, 34. "I have been away for 13 years serving in a foreign land and finally I can do something for my motherland."
Gurung and his fellow Gurkha soldiers, helped by friends from Nepal's armed forces, were pumping ground water, filtering it in a purification unit and storing it in balloon tank with a capacity of 5,000 liters.
Nearly 2,000 people in tented camps and the Nepalese soldiers stationed in the royal palace area are the immediate beneficiaries.
Gurung said he and his colleagues plan to bring in water tankers and distribute water to other parts of the city.
Nina Tamang, holding her 20-day old baby, said it was a blessing to get the clean water for herself and her child.
"I am so happy that our Gurkha brothers have come to help us and provide something so important like water," Tamang, 20, said while eating rice and curry in a light blue tent provided by the Chinese relief team.
A Nepalese soldier at the camp Subarna Gurung was also happy to have the water in their camp.
"We have been using dirty water until yesterday, when they came in and cleaned the water," he said.
Gurkhas have been part of the British military for over two centuries, and have fought in the Falklands, Iraq and Afghanistan. Thousands of young men from the poverty-stricken Himalayan hills still apply to join the force every year.