Two orphaned elderly citizens were rescued from the street, thanks to ‘Vayomithram', a project for the care of the elderly initiated by the Kerala Social Security Mission (KSSM) and being implemented with the help of the National Rural Health Mission.

Launched a year ago as a project to provide medical care at home to the elderly, many of whom are confined indoors or do not have anyone to accompany them to hospitals, ‘Vayomithram' has emerged as a helpline for hundreds of elderly citizens for accessing medical care and palliative care services.

Though the primary focus of the project is providing medical care to the elderly, ‘Vayomithram' has been receiving several distress calls from the public on many destitute elderly on the streets, a KSSM official said. “We cannot ignore such calls when this is a government initiative for the welfare of the elderly. We have been rescuing and rehabilitating many orphaned elderly from the streets. Last month, our coordinators rescued two homeless senior citizens from the city,” he added.

Appukrishna Pillai (87), a native of Pothencode, had left his native place at the age of 47, following his wife's death. Since then, he had been living at Kumarakovil temple, Thuckalai, in Tamil Nadu, taking care of the temple's mascot, a bull named Neelakantan. He returned to the city recently after the death of the animal. Alone and homeless, he needed a shelter. His case was taken up by KSSM following a phone call received at the helpdesk of ‘Vayomithram' (Phone: 93497 88889). Appukrishna Pillai can now spend his sunset years at the Care Home at Chakka, where he was taken in on April 25, following the efforts of the ‘Vayomithram' coordinators.

However, another homeless elderly citizen, rescued by the volunteers from the rotting garbage heaps near the Sri Chithira Tirunal park at East Fort, died before he could be nursed back to health.

“We found him—later identified as Sasi, a native of Inchakkala—in a very distressing and unhygienic state. We rushed him to the General Hospital and got him admitted in ward 9. Though we traced his long-lost family, he did not live long enough to see them,” KSSM official said.

“Vayomithram' project is currently operational in all 14 district headquarters.