Shravanika

INTRODUCTION

We, in India, have a long standing tradition of the physical and emotional needs of older persons being looked after by younger members of the family who, in turn, benefited from their guidance and support. This most cherished tradition has, lately, become a casualty to the changed socio-economic environment where the elderly are increasingly being left to fend for themselves. This trend can, to some extent, be reversed if able-bodied young volunteers come forward to give them some love and affection. This is the main aim of starting the scheme called 'Shravanika'.

THE   NAME   'SHRAVANIKA'

We have all heard, from our mothers and grandmothers, the story of Shravan Kumar, a young man who spent his time looking after his visually challenged old parents. His name has long been synonymous with filial love. The project has been named after him so that it may evoke the right spirit among the participants.

ORGANISATION

Shravanika consists of volunteers who have undertaken to devote time and efforts to the service of senior citizens, within their own families as well as in the immediate neighbourhood. This being a project of the Association, meeting many of its aims and supplementing the efforts of its members, it has been given an organization similar to , and integrated with, that of the parent body. Individual volunteers,  known as Shravaniks/ Shravinakas, work under the guidance of the Sector Conveners while the overall control of the scheme will be exercised by the Governing Body through one of its office bearers appointed as Coordinator. Shashi Inder Pal is the current Coordinator.

Each volunteer will be assigned an area and given the names of senior citizens needing his/her support (which may include spending time with them, doing minor chores or obtaining necessary assistance).

ELIGIBILTY

Though age is no bar, volunteers should ideally be young person of independent means, in the age group of 18-40 years, who:

·         Are proud of their heritage,

·         Have genuine love and respect for senior citizens,

·         Can devote some time to their service,

·         Are pleasant mannered and inspire confidence.

(Note: Close relationship with a member is desirable but not mandatory).

THE   BENEFICIARIES

All senior citizens, both members and non-members , are potential beneficiaries. Preference is , however, given to senior citizens who are handicapped, have no adult family member to look after them or otherwise feel neglected or abused.

FUNCTIONING

All volunteers are asked to fill up a membership form and given a Shravanika Number, an ID card and or other insignia (like arm bands) for ease of recognition. They are thereafter, given a list of beneficiaries (not more than four in the present scheme of things) and introduced to them by the Convener of the area. They are required to maintain a record of their visits to the beneficiaries and keep the Convener informed of any important occurrences concerning their charge. During their visits to the senior citizens the Shravaniks may be called upon to perform any of the following chores:

·         Engage in polite conversation and pleasantries.

·         Read out newspapers to the visually impaired.

·         Help with minor shopping for medicines and necessities.

·         Inform them of the activities of the Association and other important developments/matters of interest.

·         Inform the Convener / Coordinator of any occurrences which may adversely affect the health senior citizen.

The beneficiary, on his part, must appreciate the nobility of the gesture which has prompted the Shravaniks to come to his assistance and must give him/her the same love and affection that he would to his own grandchild. It must be understood that the sole motivation of the young volunteer is the joy of service and it is entirely for the beneficiary to make the relationship an enjoyable one.

ORIENTATION   PROGRAMME

Before the volunteers are assigned duties as Shravaniks they are put through an orientation program to prepare them for their role.

SECURITY

Before a volunteer is accepted to join the scheme , he/she is thoroughly screened both for background and suitability. Since the Shravaniks supplement the efforts of other agencies, like the Police, the Association forwards their particulars to the local police with whom they are expected to maintain close liaison. This, while allaying any apprehensions among the beneficiaries and the law and order agencies, also protects the volunteers from suspicious relatives.

CONCLUSION

Most established NGOs have youth wings that supplement the efforts of the parent body and act as reservoirs for future growth. Shravanika, our youth wing, will not only meet these requirements but also perform some very important functions that our members are unable to on account of age-related disabilities. Even more than any functions, the scheme will , hopefully, act as a catalyst to strengthen the existing bonds and promote love and understanding among the young and old members of society.