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Age Care

Amalananda Bhavan – Day Centres for the Aged and “Adopt a Granny” Programme

In the slums of Chennai and villages surrounding Katchur, Share and Care has established Day Centres for the elderly poor who have no one to care for them. Serving both high and low castes and Adivasis (Tribal people), the Centres provide nutritious food, medical care, clothing, recreation, and most of all, a feeling of belonging. An emphasis on income-generating activities enables the seniors to regain respect in their families and communities by becoming financially-contributing members.

Most of these programmes involve making and selling something, such as rope-making from plastic bags, herb gardening, buying-drying-reselling fish, and fashioning leaf-plates from teak leaves. The “Revolving Fund Scheme” involves lending a buffalo to an elder, who milks it, and gives the milk to Share and Care. Share and Care then sells the milk and banks the proceeds, keeping careful records. When the buffalo loan is repaid, the elder owns the buffalo and can sell it, or keep it and sell the milk directly. He or she is then eligible for a second buffalo-loan. Another type of programme is the once-a-month provision distribution in Chennai. Share and Care provides food, spices, soaps, medical care, counselling, and 50 rupees pocket money to each person of a group of fifty very needy seniors.

For these people this is their only source of food, and without it they would starve. They also receive new bedding once a year, as well as utensils, a stove and clothing. People on the waiting list can begin to get help only when one of the current members dies.

When anyone of the elderly from the community dies (not only a Day Centre member or monthly provision recipient but also from Perambur where the office is), Share and Care takes responsibility for paying the funeral charges and giving them a respectful burial.

Day Centres have had a tremendous impact on the seniors, who previously were considered useless and a burden. Largely because of the income-generating activities, their families now respect and care for them. Their status as elders in the community has been restored; in addition to respect, they are given a voice, especially in the village meetings—this has never happened before.

The monthly distribution "Adopt a Granny” programme in and around Chennai it has been funded by Help Age India is a great help to the elderly people.

However, funding is due to stop shortly because of a shift in focus from welfare-oriented to “development” programming.

These seniors are incapable of benefiting from a development orientation and Share and Care wants very much to continue this area of their work. Without these ‘handouts' these elderly men and women are in even greater dire straights.

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