HelpAge India, along with nine other old-age homes has an ‘Adopt-A-Grandparent' scheme. Here's how you can help senior citizens
‘Speak gently to the aged one, grieve not the careworn heart. The sands of time are nearly run, let such in peace depart.' The words of David Bates' poem haunt my memory as Sister Amala describes the various journeys that bring elders to her old-age home in Vyasarpadi.
“Sometimes, people are brought in by others saying they found them on the road. When we finally take them in and ask about them, they'd reveal to us that the ones who brought them were their children,” she rues.
These elders are either forcibly or voluntarily put into homes, away from the warmth and chatter of families. To better their condition, HelpAge India, along with nine other old-age homes throughout the State has an ‘Adopt-A-Grandparent' scheme since 2009, where anyone can choose to sponsor a grandparent for a year.
“This scheme was initially called ‘Adopt-A-Granny'. It's been around for about 30 years and has benefited over 17,000 people across the country. Till last year, it was a charitable scheme but it is now on a development mode. In Tamil Nadu alone, there are about 3,166 beneficiaries, including people in old age homes, the community and self-help groups,” says Edwin Babu, Joint Director, Programmes, HelpAge India.
In Chennai, the scheme is active in two homes; St. Thomas Home for the Aged in Vyasarpadi and Mercy Home in Kilpauk. Fund-raising activities are done by a research team, and donors are contacted. Elders who come under HelpAge India's care are given Rs. 600 a month for their basic necessities.
St. Thomas Home has about 138 elders in its premises and every elder who enters has a story to tell, says Sr. Amala Christie, Mother Superior. “Some people come through the HelpAge India helpline. A lot of research and verification is done before we take in people,” she says.
Around 40 people in the home are under the scheme and they get food and medical care by way of sponsorship. The scheme also includes elders brought to the home by HelpAge India and those abandoned by their children.
Mercy Home, too, has a similar set-up. “We started off in 1984 and now have around 200 people in our home. We have been liaising with HelpAge for a while now and, currently, they sponsor about 58 people — 22 by HelpAge India and 36 by HelpAge International,” says Sr. L.C. Joyse .
“These are people who do not have support,” says Edwin Babu, “Sometimes there are genuine reasons for them being where they are. But when their children just abandon them, it is only us who can try to make some difference in their lives.”
To adopt a grandparent, call HelpAge India at 25322149.