Nepal's elite Gurkha brigade served colonial Britain for more than 200 years and lost more than 43,000 fighters during two world wars. Gurkhas can live in the UK but some are angry over the way they're being treated.
Indian Army Gurkha soldiers march toward Line of Control between India and Pakistan
Two years ago, Gurkhas were granted the right to live in the UK thanks to a high-profile campaign led by the British celebrity Joanna Lumley.
But many say securing the right to live in the UK is far from easy. Padam, a former Sergeant with Nepal's elite Gurkha Brigade, agrees. "It was very, very difficult, very hard for me to get the visa for myself, and for my family as well, because my wife's visa was rejected three times, and my kids' visas were rejected three times."
British actress Joanna Lumley played a key role in getting Gurkhas the right to live in the UK
As a Gurkha, Padam had served the British Army for 15 years. Under the army's 'up-or-out' policy, he was forced to retire in 1994. Along with some 36,000 former Gurkhas, he was denied UK residency because he had served in the British army before 1997.
Struggling in the UK
Now that the British government has abandoned its controversial policy, several thousand Gurkhas have taken up residency in the UK. But not without a struggle. Paying for the visa process, and the cost of living in the UK have some questioning whether the Gurkhas were misled to believe life here would be better than it actually turned out to be.
The Gurkhas have been fighting with British forces for over 200 years
For Padam, life began to improve once his wife, Sita, joined him and they both found jobs. Padam works as a security guard and Sita as a healthcare assistant. Sita says finding a job was tough. "They were looking for experience, and when you are new in this country, it's hard to get experience and find a job. But since I have started working, I think we are doing well."
Campaigner Balkrishna Gurung believes that most of the hardships come with immigration and says that reported resentment among local residents towards the Gurkhas is overstated. "The vast majority of the British public wanted the Gurkhas to live next door to them, wanted them to come over, wanted them to contribute to British society." He adds, "Of course you are going to have some small minorities who might say 'we don't want them here,' but they might say that of any other immigrant."
Balkrishna is the son of a former Gurkha officer. He has lobbied hard for Gurkha rights in the UK. He says even though a historical injustice was finally put right, the government could do more to support the Gurkhas. "Gurkha people are resilient themselves, and they wouldn't want to be a burden on anyone, but certainly the government could do more to help them, help them integrate into the community."
Gurkha soldiers escort four Iraqi men to a helicopter in Iraq in 2003
Padam Gureng believes the Gurkha reputation for bravery and resilience has inspired confidence in him at work. But many are finding it difficult to survive, especially with the economy in poor shape. Sita says she and her husband sometimes think about going home. "Our society, is totally different, we take care of our parents, the elderly, whereas here, you have to go to a care home."
Despite their fears, the Gurengs are now able to afford to rent their own flat. Until a month ago, they were sharing a place with another family. Their son has just arrived from Nepal to study, and their daughter hopes to follow.
Author: Nina Maria Potts
Editor: Sarah Berning