Why do we reach out to the poor and homeless? It is all about compassion and a will to help. A prevalent concern in India is poverty which exists in every part of our country. But the sheer magnitude of the problem can overwhelm and paralyze you if you don’t see beyond poverty as an issue and get to know these people and understand the root cause. When you build relationships with people living in poverty, you’ll begin to see that you can fight the monster of poverty by making a difference in individual lives.

Over the years, an old parent staying in an old age home is a common enough phenomenon. But is it desirable? Most elderly people cannot reconcile themselves to the idea of living in old age homes. The desired choice would be to have parents live happily, in peace and preferably in the one place where they have always lived – their own homes.

But this is the digital age and well priorities seemed to have changed for some. Aged parents are often left alone while their children move away, or go abroad to live and work…the worst case scenario here being the one where the old are just abandoned. The logical step in such cases is to put an old father or mother, or both in an old age home. While many say that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with such decisions, it certainly does offend sensibilities.

Most Indian families did take good care of their elders but now times have changed. Unfortunately, there are people who treat their parents as liabilities and in turn neglecting them. Due to this, there are hundreds of organizations working to make life easy for destitute parents by developing old age homes in India.

There are also organisations that are tirelessly working towards fulfilling dreams of the under-privileged - Wishes and Blessings is one such organisation in New-Delhi, which provides hope and a ray of sunshine to an otherwise dreary life.

Established in 2014 with a mission to ‘inspire and empower dreams’, Wishes and Blessings has emerged as a unique platform as they work across the spectrum of society surpassing age and gender barriers on diverse causes including education, health, food, skill development and relief. Led by Dr Geetanjali Chopra, they take on various social issues across India, from education to providing relief in SOS situations, to working with visually-impaired children and orphanages. Their primary objective is to connect donors with beneficiaries with the aim of spreading happiness and making the unfulfilled wishes of the underprivileged come true.

They began by working with visually-impaired children and soon their work expanded to include orphanages, old age homes and shelters for the homeless. In India, 65% of the elderly population testifies to neglect and abuse. A severe shortage of old age homes has forced them to continue living in pitiable conditions or all by themselves.

This section of society has long been neglected, with various statistics verifying the same. According to conservative estimates, there is a requirement of over 15000 old age homes out of which only 750 homes presently exist. In order to fill this gap between the required and actual numbers of old age homes in our country, and with a motive to provide the elderly and neglected people the love and dignity they deserve; Wishes and Blessings aims to set up a series of old age homes in India.

The first in this series; their pilot project: ‘Mann Ka Tilak’ was inaugurated on the April 25, 2018. This is a private and charitable home for old and abandoned women in the NCR and aims to provide them a new lease of life.

Set up exclusively for old and abandoned women, with no financial or social support, this enables them to live as valued members of the society and receive the love, dignity and respect they deserve. ‘Mann Ka Tilak’ would initially house 15 women and provide them with safe accommodation, a friendly and healthy environment, love, care, nourishment, along with basic amenities. All facilities will be provided free of cost to the residents.

Situated in Maidan Garhi (IGNOU road), Saket, ‘Mann Ka Tilak’ is equipped with amenities which are necessary to ensure a comfortable life: clean and hygienic living conditions, wholesome and nutritious food, amenities such as toiletries, clothes and shoes, on call doctors, ambulance at close proximity, recreational activities, vocational training and workshops and festive celebrations. Any women in the age group of 55 – 75 years, in genuine need of help and who do not have any criminal proceedings/records can be referred to them. http://www.wishesandblessings.net/mann_ka_tilak.html

What is apparent when you speak to all those involved in this form of social work is that there is little or no support from the government. Frankly, a little more empathy towards NGOs is definitely required. The general outlook towards NGOs needs to change as there is a certain level of scepticism involved. The government needs to be receptive towards the fact that some NGOs are doing excellent work and they do deserve a chance to grow.

The aspiration to touch lives must be respected and supported. Therefore, let us make this a priority to be a voice for those without a voice and reach out to those in need with grace, wisdom, and love, and certainly not with arrogance and contempt.

“There is nothing more beautiful than someone who goes out of their way to make life beautiful for others.”