Millennium Discovers: Nepal's Mighty Gurkhas - what it takes to become a Gurkha

Discovery

Every year, thousands of young Nepalese men endure gruelling physical training, punishing runs and relentless scrutiny for what they see as a chance of a lifetime – the opportunity to become a Gurkha soldier in the British Army.

Only 432 will make it.

For boys from remote mountain villages, it can be a pathway out of poverty – not just for them, but for their entire families.

But first, they must survive a brutal selection process.

Major Sandy Nightingale, who runs the recruitment process, adopts a no-holds-barred approach when telling the candidates what to expect.

“If you join the British Army Brigade of Gurkhas, you have to be prepared to sacrifice your life to protect the UK, your fellow soldiers and the Gurkhas Brigade,” he tells them.

Kamal Gurung, who comes from a family of farmers, has been training for this moment for years. He is desperate to help lift his family out of poverty and transform their lives in one of the world’s poorest countries.

“If I succeed, I’ll be able to give my family a normal life, and all the happiness they deserve. They’ll feel like their hard work finally paid off,” he says.

But will he make it through the punishing endurance tests and stringent medical examinations?

This documentary from 101 East follows Nepal’s latest hopeful recruits as they battle it out to see who has what it takes to join the legendary Gurkhas.

About 101 East – Bold, untold stories from across Asia and the Pacific. Al Jazeera’s in-depth, weekly current affairs programme from the world’s most populated region.