As the highly educated readers of Dignity Dialogue it must be common knowledge for you that the key problems faced by poorer senior citizens are:
- Financial insecurity
- Health related problems
- Elder abuse
- Impediments to mobility
These aspects lead to loneliness, depression, suicidal tendencies even while living with adult children. Among competing economic pressures of the working class children, on whom the elderly poor are dependent, a sense of fear, insecurity and final disempowerment if they opted to speak up about their impoverished and neglected conditions result in real disempowerment sooner than later. While the smaller children of the adult children receive priority over the needs of the “oldies” , a highly sensitive and subtle inequilibrium develops in the enjoyment of scare comforts at home. The senior citizen is finally driven to live in the fringes of the family structure. His/her awareness about laws, policies and support programmes of the Govt and other large bodies is very low.
Empowering senior citizens with basic awareness and gifting them with various services already in existence at Dignity Foundation came to be seen as the most important act we could undertake -- but with funding support.
Four poorer and congested localities in Mumbai ( BDD Chawl Worli, Dharavi, Jogeshwari East and Sion East Transit Camps) and two in Chennai ( Kannagi Nagar and Saidapet) have been selected for our action programme. One Coordinator for each Locality have been appointed; five Volunteers in each of the 6 Localities have also been nominated. A Project Manager at the HO has also been appointed.
The Intervention programme throws up an unexpected emergence of an ordinary office boy of 15 years in the Foundation head office, Dilip Chauhan, as an effective community organiser in a poor locality called BDD Chawls in the Worli area of Mumbai. The Foundation is proud to feature this emergence.