Guiding them through old-age
KOCHI: Government Welfare Institutes have for long mechanically housed destitutes in the state. However, the Home for Physically Handicapped and Government Old Age Home in Thevara, is different. Under the patronage of the Social Justice Department of Kerala, the institute is busy making a difference by engaging old people in activities like flower-making, flower vase making and the like. Apart from helping them be creative, the inmates of these institutions, are also making it into an healthy income generating hobby.
The products made by them are widely sold around the city especially in flats and the other residential areas. It was in 2012, one of the staff Gita Kumari started teaching the inmates to make carpets. Raw materials for the carpets were collected from various tailoring shops around Thevara. Apart from a few who are blind, the other members of the institute are enthusiastically involved in the process.
“ Our aim was to get them engaged so that they can utilize the time creatively,” says Asha, superintendent of the institution. Retired cook Thresiama guided inmates in artificial flower making. From 2008-2009, the members of the house have been engaged in activities such as hand embroidery, paper bag making, screen printing etc.
The process has been receiving technical support from the Center for Science and Technology Entrepreneurship Development and financial assistance from Social Welfare Department.
The woman’s wing of Central Excise Department helped the inmates in marketing, especially through various stalls. The carpets are sold for affordable prices. Since inmates cannot rely upon machines, the items are solely made using human effort. Eighty percent of the profit goes to the inmates. The members are now showing willingness to teach the newer inmates. Lakshmi Menon, a designer approached the government old age home and gave an opportunity to earn by making wicks. They accepted it cordially and they have been continuing this activity for the past years. Currently, 15 inmates are involved in making wicks. The raw materials are delivered by Lakshmi for rolling wicks. “ For her it is a social service, for us it is a blessing to relieve us of our boredom,” said Vishwambaran, a 75-year-old member. When contacted, Lakshmi said that she introduced this concept at the old-age home after she was struck by the excitement of her grandmother when she gifted the wicks to her friends.