In Bangalore, techies help orphans and elderly discover new bond

January 12th, 2009 - 11:53 am ICT by IANS  

Bangalore, Jan 12 (IANS) A group of software professionals in their 20s has managed to bring together two neglected sections of society - the elderly and orphans - in this city. And the initiative is reaping a rich harvest of love, care and companionship.For the last six months, We Belong, as the group has been christened, has been working to introduce positive changes in the lives of senior citizens and children without families.

“The very idea of our group is to bring both the groups - elderly and orphans - together. In today’s fast-paced world with youngsters having no time for others, most senior citizens after their retirement are leading monotonous and lonely lives,” Kamal Nath, who first mooted the idea of We Belong, told IANS.

“We want to create a bridge where elders could come out of their homes and provide love and care to the orphans who look for parental bonding in orphanages,” Kamal Nath said.

The We Belong team currently has 23 members, all software professionals, working in various Bangalore-based companies.

Of the 23, the group has nine core members. Seven of them, including Kamal Nath, are from Infosys, while there is one each from Sasken Communications and Mindtree.

“Every weekend we try to bring the elders and children together through a series of classes intended to teach the kids one or another talent and have a fun-filled time together,” said Kamal Nath.

Through interactive classes, We Belong intends to lessen the boredom in the lives of elders and give them some peace, sense of purpose and vitality.

Till date We Belong has touched the lives of 70 kids and 40 elderly people.

“During these interactive sessions, we have found that kids devoid of family bonding feel great moments of love and belonging. They always express their happiness, sense of belonging, security and deep respect for elders,” Deepa Udhayakumar, another member, said.

“Teaching and learning through games, music, art, painting, dance and magic shows is just a mechanism to bring them together.”

To carry forward its work, We Belong has tied up with Angels Orphanage, a home for homeless children in Shivajinagar in city centre, and the Dignity Foundation-Bangalore chapter in south Bangalore. The foundation works for bringing dignity back into the lives of the elderly.

“We are glad that every weekend We Belong, along with some feisty elderly, are coming to our home and spending quality time in teaching our children in various skills,” said Sabina, the founder of Angels Orphanage, which has been providing shelter, food and education to 70 children.

Ask Jeevan Reddy, a retired government employee and resident of J.P. Nagar, an upscale locality in south Bangalore.

“Both my children are working in the US. Thus after retirement I was left with no work but was wasting my time by watching television with my wife. After joining the programme started by ‘We Belong’, both me and my wife are feeling very happy and satisfied that we too can contribute to society.

“We no longer feel left out,” he smiled and said.

We Belong is also working on creating a system where medicine supplies and health checkups are done for elders in the city in a systematic way.

“We are trying to develop a system, whereby the elderly, mostly in old age homes, get the benefit of medical care. We need doctors who can take time out from their schedule and work with us to achieve our dream,” said Kamal Nath.

According to figures available with Karnataka’s Department of Welfare of Disabled and Senior Citizens, Bangalore had 565,668 elderly people in a total population of 5.28 million in 2007.

India is home to over 76.6 million people over the age of 60.

Along with age-related health problems, lack of finances is the main issue of concern for around 90 percent of senior citizens in the country.

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