Fighting for Love

Usmeet Kaur usmeet.kaur@hindustantimes.com

Chandigarh Senior Citizens’ Association celebrates its 16th anniversary, and reveals its agenda for the old and young alike

After having worked relent lessly through out their lives to provide for their families, it’s a strange paradox for the aged to be combating emotional abuse at the hands of their own loved ones.

Coming to their rescue, the Chandigarh Senior Citizens’ Association is one of the city’s many NGOs to have taken a lead to help the elderly regain their right to be loved and live dignified lives.

Born in 1996, the association celebrates its 16th anniversary this year, while also expanding its ambit of extending help to all those who seek it, including the young. Shares its president, Brig (retd) Keshav Chandra, “Our only aim is to look after the welfare of the senior citizens by helping them to get their status in the society.“

Apart from addressing health and personal con cerns of the tricity’s senior citizens, this 5,000-strong body also takes up family counselling for their family members.

As the members share their NGO’s progress with HT City, they talk about being indebted to the city police in aiding them in their efforts of helping the lonely aged, while sharing their plans of making the society a better place to live in.

Help knows no bounds Daljit Singh Grewal, the association’s secretary general, says they currently run six physiotherapy centres that provide free service, benefiting as many as 40,000 people annually.

This is not all, for the NGO undertakes numerous activities and programmes that look after the welfare of not just the senior citizens, but other sections of the society too. They have adopted 100 girls from a slum colony and six other mentally and physically challenged girls whom they help educate. Their system of running the body, shares Chandra, involves assigning `chapters’ to conveners. “A convener act as a medium between an individual and the management. The tricity has numerous NGOs, but each has broken up with its off shoots, but we stand united since the past 16 years,“ smiles he.

On a poignant note, he adds, “Loneliness, isolation and emotional abuse bonds us together. All senior citizens have common prob lems, so we stand for each other during tough times.
Unlike other NGOs, we not only help our active members, but anyone who reaches out to us.“

Recently, as a part of one of their extensive programmes, they have adopted 80 old women living below the poverty line, at an yearly budget of R25 lakh. Says Usha Sharma, one of the members, “We meet these women twice a month and provide them with good clothes followed by free medical camps twice a year.“

She adds that the body’s membership fee is R1,500 per person and R2,500 for spouse (life membership), but because they realise that not everyone can afford it, they believe service is of utmost importance.

The youth connect In a bid to encourage the young to help those who are in the winter of their lives, the association’s members have come up with programmes such as Shravanika, where young volunteers are roped in to visit the elderly at old age homes and support them in whichever way they can.

Chandra informs, “The moment we become demanding, kids revolt. So we don’t enforce our opinions on them. Rather, we encourage school goers to help us help the aged.“

In their own ways, they continue to help the senior citizens earn their much deserved respect and compassion.

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