Wednesday, October 5, 2011


World elders day
Twilight years caring, an art

The moment the old man manning the gate opens it, one enters a totally different world of giving, loving, caring, compassion and serene smiles. As the world celebrates World Elders Day today (October 1), the Little Sisters of the Poor, the care givers, with selfless devotion, kindness are a lesson to humanity in how to treat elders, writes a completely humbled N Niranjan Nikam

comfort unlimited: A few of women inmates at the  Little Sisters of the Poor. dh photo by prashant h gHe had just then cremated his aunt and was back in the place, where she had breathed her last peacefully. Tears streaming and with a look of gratitude, Venkatesh, who knew as much to give as to receive said, "my aunt Narayanamma who was more than a mother to me, as I had lost my mother at a young age, looked after me in spite of poverty. 

Today, after much struggle, I found this home for the aged and she lived just for ten days here and died. But she died a death of dignity and I am eternally grateful to these sisters."

Stories like this abound in all the old age homes around the world run by the Little Sisters of the Poor. And the one on Mahadevapura Road, Gandhinagar is no different.  A life of dignity is what everyone looks for. Making the elderly happy is what counts, said the founder of Little Sisters of the Poor, Jeanne Jugan. The self-effacing sisters follow these words to the letter and spirit, and the result is there for everyone to see in the Old Age Home, that they run with such devotion, love and care. This home was started in 1971 and today houses 135 residents. "To run this home, we totally depend on the 'Providence of God.' Two Little Sisters go out every day and meet people to request help," said a sister who refuses her name to be written.

The home here is only for the people aged above 65, who are poor and abandoned. And they come in all ways. "There was this woman who brought an old man. He was tall and so was the woman. She said that she had found him on the road and asked for help. 
When I questioned her, she blurted that her husband who was drunkard, refused to keep her father at home and she used this ruse to bring him. However, we had no choice but to send him back," said a sister.

There are as many men as women. Many of them have been staying for years. There is one Mangalamma who will be celebrating her hundredth birthday next year. Each one is given a vocation that he or she is interested in. Joseph Purushottam, 71, a paralytic is one such who entertains the inmates with his singing and playing the cymbal. "I met MGR ( M G Ramachandran, former chief minister of Tamil Nadu and the yester year  super hero of the Tamil films) as a eleven year old in Madras and even managed to get Rs 6,000 from him. I blew up the money in three years. 

Today, I have no regrets because God has destined that I have to be this way," he said with a toothless smile.

"I had just then joined the congregation. We have to beg everyday for vegetables and fruits. It was a humiliating experience for me in the market, when a vegetable seller threw just one brinjal at me mockingly. But the sister who was with me asked me to bear it. Today, the same man gives lots of vegetables," said a sister with a beatific smile.
The difference between the elderly men and women is, the men do not express their needs, while the women do. 

"However, what ever is happening round the world is shared with us by these men who listen to the radio or watch television," said another sister  The notice board in the old age home always reads people hosting breakfast, lunch or dinner. 

An elderly couple had just then come with a bagful of loaves of bread, milk and bananas. 
"Sadly, we do not have volunteers from colleges and schools like in our other homes and we only wish more come to understand the world of the aged," said a sister, even as they were making preparations for the burial of a 95 year old lady who had just then passed away.

Anybody can host lunch, breakfast or dinner for birthdays, death anniversaries and other occasions in their loved ones names and donations can also be made. 
Make yourself free, visit the home today. For details please call 0821 2455017 or 9611791424.


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