An insurance for old age
Arpita Misra , TNN 16 November 2009, 05:41am IST
She waits eagerly for this one day of the month when she can spend
quality time in the company of like-minded and like-aged people,
sharing one another's experience -- and soaking in a sense of
assurance that there are many more like her.
For 74-year-old Meera Kamath, just to dress up for the occasion gives
her impetus enough to look forward to meeting fellow members of
In today's changing socio-economic set-up, it's often the elderly who
find themselves cornered, braving the pangs of loneliness and craving
for a sense of belonging. And it's for people like them that Ashvasan
Foundation ushers in a sense of inclusion, boosting their self-esteem
and enhancing their dignity.
Established in 1993, the Foundation has eight recreation centres
across the city with over 1,000 members. Each centre organizes
get-togethers once a month, where senior citizens of a particular area
can meet and spend quality time together, relaxing, playing indoor
games, listening to music and participating in various activities.
Informative talk sessions are organized on topics such as coping with
loneliness, fear of being old, social and psychological health and
other relevant issues.
A brainchild of Lalita Shivaram Ubhayaker, the foundation has grown
brick-by-brick over the past 16 years. "I spent a lot of time with my
mother during the twilight of her life and her subsequent death left a
vacuum in my existence. I was aware of what ageing could do to a
person and that's when I decided I should work for the welfare of this
section of society. Ashvasan was one of its kind at the time of
inception. All our projects have been pilots as we had no set model to
emulate," says 80-year-old Lalita.
The services of Ashvasan have touched many lives in the city and its
fringes as their other initiatives involve feeding senior citizens
across five slums every day, training the financially deprived in
income-generating activities such as making paper and cloth bags, and
organizing regular health camps at subsidized rates. The Foundation
also organizes an annual seminar encompassing topics of health,
finance, physical security and spiritual well-being of the greying
"Everyone is welcome to be a part of Ashvasan. We believe in 'smile
and make others smile' policy," explains 79-year-old R Sriram, a life
member of the Foundation. "Such set-ups are rare but much-needed
today," adds Meera, who's a member of Ashvasan for 10 years now.
The journey over the years has encountered ample rough weather, with
fund crunch being a constant impediment. "I'm always in look-out for
more volunteers. Though there's little glamour in being part of such
an initiative, I want more youths to participate," adds Lalita.
As the name suggests, Ahsvasan provides the much-needed assurance and
mental cushioning to stride through various phases of ageing, a
natural phenomenon often curtained in the humdrum of materialistic
Nanda-Deep, 15/3, Palace Road
Phone No. 2258091