The Kolkata branch of a Mumbai based NGO, Dignity Foundation, offers an enriching set of opportunities to the elderly residents of the city to lead a more dignified, secure and fulfilling life.
The brainchild of Dr Sheilu Sreenivasan, ex Managing Editor , Head of Publication, TATA Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai took shape in the year 1995. Dignity foundation was focussed on the well-being of people who have crossed the age of 50 since its inception.
The NGO runs a number of programmes like Helpline for senior citizens to deal with the issues like abuse of the elderly people, providing information on various hospital facilities and medicines available for the elders, information on care givers for elderly people.
Counselling services by a panel of experts are provided to the seniors with regards to legal, financial and other matters and has provided service through this programme to an overall of 18,000 elders across the country.
Companionship services form a very important and crucial part of the services provided by the NGO.
“I have been visiting a 96 year old bedridden lady for once a week for the last four years. She chats up with me on various issues ranging from politics to movies to the latest goings on” said Ms Lina Das, a social worker with Dignity.
Members of Dignity Foundation can also avail discounts at different pharmacy shops, hospitals that the NGO has tied up with.
“Each day of the week from Monday to Friday is dedicated to some activity or the other like Monday is for singing, Wednesday for cultural activities and the members have benefitted immensely through this kind of activities as it helps them to come out of loneliness. We also organise picnics, outings, drama, singing, yoga for them,” said Ms Moitrayee Chatterjee, client service executive of the NGO.
Similar cultural activities are organised every week by renting community halls at Salt Lake and Behala for catering to the needs of senior residents of those and adjoining areas.
“I like to come here and I have been associated with Dignity since the time of its inception. I enjoy the company of my fellow members” mentions Ms Neelam Munshi who was busy playing housie with 14 other members. It’s Friday and it’s housie day for them.
Mr Narendra Nath Mukherjee, marketing in charge of Dignity, said that events are organised throughout the year with the theme ‘Old by Age not by mind’ to benefit the overall well-being of the elderly people.