It is International Day of Older Persons today and this day is always celebrated by addressing the issues affecting senior citizens. But for one set of elders, finding happiness is mainly by giving back to the society. Senior Citizens, an NGO based out of Indiranagar has adopted eight schools in and around the area and is looking after the needs of around 1,700 children studying with them.
The current president of the NGO, Col HMS Murthy recalls how it all started in 2001. "Four retired elders noticed a group of school children walking barefoot. They offered them a pair of slippers to each. That was beginning. They learnt that the children were studying in Sri Chennakeshava Swamy Higher Primary School. And they were shocked to see the state of affairs at the school as it had no drinking water and other basic facilities. That's when they planned to adopt the school and overlook the day to day affairs," he says.
Though the initiative started in 2001, it took time for the senior citizens to get resources. And what started with four people is now a team of 54 elderly persons who have become members of the Senior Citizens forum. "My daughter, Sheela Murthy, who runs a law firm in the USA has been kind enough to donate $25,000 every year for ten years. We started receiving the funds from 2006 and from then on we have been able to look after the children and cater to their needs," he says.
Apart from providing notebooks, scholarships, medical treatment, these elders make sure that all the children get nutritious food every day. "Back in 2005, we would see some children dozing off in the school because they were attending the class without breakfast. From then on we made sure that we give 200 ml of ragi malt as breakfast to all the children on a daily basis, which is still in practice.
There are many establishments, which have come forward to help. CMH Hospital conducts medical tests every year, free of cost, while Ambedkar College helps with dental care and Sankara Eye Hospital takes care of the eye checkup," explains Murthy, whose aim is to provide complete education to the children.
"We don't want any slum child discontinuing their education because of monetary issues. This apart, these elderly people are looking after an old age home as well as a centre for the mentally challenged near Bagalur," he says.
The trust started by Ravi Melwani needs at least Rs 5,000 per day to feed 60 children. Fortunately, the trust have found support from corporates like Cipla and Bosch who have come forward to assist the school children and are also providing various facilities to the old age home.
The average age to become a member of this NGO is 60 years. "The membership fee is Rs 1000 and the committee members pay an annual fee of Rs 5000 every year, which goes towards helping the needy. The plus point is not even a single penny is spent on administration," says Murthy.
To know more about the trust, log on to www.seniorcitizensblr.com