Tamil Nadu

23-year-old wins Chief Minister’s State Youth Award for services to the abandoned elderly

S. Arun Kumar, 23, a volunteer of Idhayam Trust in Madurai, received the Chief Minister’s State Youth Award 2020

S. Arun Kumar, 23, a volunteer of Idhayam Trust in Madurai, received the Chief Minister’s State Youth Award 2020   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

S. Arun Kumar, a 23-year-old social worker, used to reach Kakkai Padiniyar Corporation Girls Higher Secondary School in Madurai at 7 a.m. during the lockdown period. The school was one of the camps where 175 rescued abandoned senior citizens were accommodated by the Madurai Corporation. The residents were taken care of by Idhayam Trust, an NGO, during the lockdown period.

Mr. Kumar, who is a B.Sc. Computer Science graduate, used to start his work by helping bathe the elderly residents, helping them dress and then helping them eat. “When we received calls asking us to rescue abandoned elderly persons, I and other volunteers of Idhayam Trust used to rush to the spot. Usually, our work would get over around 11 p.m.,” he recalled. He continued to do this work for 75 straight days during the lockdown period.

In recognition of his service, he was awarded the ‘Chief Minister’s State Youth Award 2020’ during the 74th Independence Day celebrations on Saturday.

Director of Idhayam Trust, G.R. Sivakumar, said that Mr. Kumar has been a volunteer with the Trust for the past three years. During the lockdown period, members of the Idhayam Trust had helped in getting some of the abandoned elderly persons to reconcile with their family members. Currently, around 50 elderly persons are being taken care of at the Idhayam Geriatic Care Centre, and Mr. Kumar continues to volunteer, added Mr. Sivakumar.

Mr. Kumar, who used to work as a supervisor in a construction firm, said that three years ago, he saw volunteers of the Idhayam Trust feeding an abandoned elderly person. “Before the volunteers arrived, that elderly man was shunned by the public as there was a bad odour around him. But after the volunteers helped get him cleaned up, the elderly person expressed his gratitude with a smile. This instilled confidence that I too, can help the abandoned and made me join the Trust,” he added.

Raised by his single mother, Mr. Kumar said that he used to get disheartened at not having a larger family during his childhood. “But fortunately all the elders at the camp became my family. Interacting with them has made me a calmer person. I have also learnt the importance of respecting my mother,” he said.

Mr. Kumar said that his mother worked hard to raise him. “My family had always financially struggled. Even during the lockdown, I had no income as all construction activities were suspended. But then, money is never a deterrent to help others,” he said.

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Printable version | Sep 23, 2020 8:14:07 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/23-year-old-wins-chief-ministers-state-youth-award-for-services-to-the-abandoned-elderly/article32362776.ece

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