HelpAge India was founded on the principle that aged people are not second-class citizens, and that they must accordingly be treated with respect and dignity by society. The desire to improve the quality of life of senior citizens remains the guiding force of the organization. Today, HelpAge has taken on a global character, and acts as an advisory body to international organizations such as the European Union.Activities
What happens to old people when they no longer remain productive members of society? In most cases, they are shunned or treated as a burden upon the family. Gone are the days when elders were respected for their wisdom.
While those in the organized sector get pension benefits after retirement, the millions of workers in the unorganized sector have no provident fund to turn to. When they become too old to work, they become "just another mouth to feed". HelpAge India attempts to reach out to such people, who are living below the poverty line and are too old to support themselves.
Improving the quality of life for the aged is done through a program known as "Adopt-A-Grand". This comprises a number of things. To begin with, the practical day-to-day needs of the person are met. Help is provided in kind, i. e. a month's quota of rice, a supply of vegetables and so on are given to families that are supporting elderly people. This ensures that the individual is not a burden upon the family's meager resources.
If the person concerned is still capable of doing some work such as arts and crafts, stitching, knitting and so on, she is encouraged to do the same. The goods she produces are sold and the profits given to the artist. Such gainful employment gives the elderly person financial independence and releases her/him from the burden of depending on her/his family. It also makes her/him feel productive and boosts her/his self-esteem.
HelpAge India does very little fieldwork of its own, choosing rather to support other NGOs working in the same field. They fund medical procedures performed for the elderly by institutions such as Care Hospital
and L V Prasad Eye Institute
. HelpAge does, however, run Mobile Medical Vans or MMVs in the city slums. These vans are self-contained units with both medical staff and medicines. The vans go to the aged people in the slums, diagnose their ailments, prescribe medicines and, perhaps most importantly, follow up every week on the progress.Membership And Volunteer Opportunities
Cliché¤ as it sounds, respect your elders. Spread the word about the importance of treating the aged with dignity. Do not rush to help the elderly at every opportunity; give them help when they ask for it, but also recognize that they would like to lead self-reliant lives.
You could participate in the awareness camps conducted by HelpAge India, and assist the organization identify aged people who need their help. And simplest of all, the next time you see an old person alone (it might even be your own grandparent), spend a few minutes talking to him/her and liven up his/her day. A little kindness can earn you the rich rewards of unconditional love and many interesting tales of yore!