Manashanti Trust, a not-for-profit charitable trust registered in 2009, runs with the objective to work for various social causes affecting the deprived or neglected in the community, with primary focus to serve the elderly/senior citizens. The vision of the trust is to build a happier and harmonious society with a mission to serve the deserving and walk an extra mile to reach the unreached in the community. Their initiative, Senior Citizens Mela, focussed towards senior citizens has been gaining momentum since its launch last year, towards addressing several issues faced by the elderly. The founders, both holding a Masters of Social Work degree, Dr Shobana R Thakrar and Nandini Srinivas speaks to Vyas Sivanand about their mela and how it has been trying to address the concerns of the senior citizens.
When is this year’s mela being planned?
This year, the event will be held on October 6 and 7. It will be our second event since its launch last year, when it was held on the World Elder’s Day - 1st October. Last year’s mela was also the platform when we launched our social enterprise, Devised Care India, which provides assistive devices for the elderly and the differently abled.
Why did you think of coming up with such a mela?
The mela was mainly thought of because many senior citizens are not aware of the physical, social, psychological, and financial support available today. So, we make every such support, medical and non-medical, available to them on these two days.
Who are the main participants of this mela?
Several hospitals have come forward to help us with their services. Other than them, banks like Axis Bank which has home banking services ideal for the elderly, MaxBupa Insurance which does not have a cut off on age, NGOs like HelpAge, Nightingale, CBR Network, senior citizen homes like Serenity Homes, Vikram Hospital which gives a gift package targetted towards the elderly on specific disorders, Ramaiah Medical Hospital which came forward for body pledging and free health check up, Government Dental College for dental services, Lion’s Eye Hospital for eye testing and eye donation, Institute of speech and Hearing, Sahaya Holistic Integrative Medical Center, Motivation India which provided customised wheelchairs and exclusive garments for the elders, etc had supported us last year. We are looking forward for them and many more, this year. The main attraction was that we provided free health, eye, ear and dental check up for citizens above 60 years.
Where are you planning the mela this year?
The first mela was held in Basavanagudi so we focussed on places around the area. This year we have partnered with Shankara Eye Hospital, Whitefield.
Have you organised other such fairs before?
During the first mela, two Rotarians came to us and they wanted to partner with us for a mela in Frazer Town. We partnered with them and conducted a fair in the month of March this year. It was organised by Rotary Club of Bangalore Cantonment, Manashanti Trust, Devised Care India and Senior Citizens club of RCBC. It was called Yogakshema and was a healthcare fair. We provided general health check ups and special facilities, insurance schemes, specific banking facilities, tools and aids for independent and comfortable living, eye check ups etc.
How has the response been?
We expected more youngsters to come for the event, but we have seen a trend of more and more elders coming on their own. We received about 700 people during our last year’s event putting both days together. During the Rotary fair, we received only 290 visitors mainly because there was less publicity given for the fair.
How are your creating awareness about the mela?
The awareness is created through media partnering, leaflet distribution and spreading the word among senior citizen forums apart from hospitals. The Federation of Senior Citizens of Karnataka has also been lending their support.
What are your plans regarding the frequency of the mela?
We plan to conduct such fairs once in six months in different localities along with a partner. We want to sensitise people in different localities. We need volunteers as well as corporates to come forward to support our initiative. We are looking at sponsors for this mela which is being organised for a cause.