Vanita

INTRODUCTION

Traditionally, women have played an important role in Indian society, both within and outside the family. History, mythology and folklore are replete with examples where women not only exercised great influence in the affairs of state but also moderated the day-to-day behavior of their men-folk to retain a semblance o civilized conduct even in the most adverse of circumstances. The tradition continues to this day except that changed economic roles have imposed excessive physical and emotional strain on them. This has resulted in loss of status as daughters, wives and mothers more so in later years o lie when are-related infirmities are aggravated by loss of control over the family finances.

Chandigarh Senior Citizens Association aims at empowering destitute old women so that they may, in the evening of their lives, live with self-respect and dignity. We had earlier been associated with a sister NGO, Youth Technical Training Society (YTTS), in running Ganga Devi Club in Mauli Jagran, a slum colony of Chandigarh. This “club” named after its poorest member – a disabled old woman who, discarded by the family, eked out a living sleeping on a handcar – succeeded in creating a bond of love and affinity among its members who would (and still) meet twice a month. Subsequently, such clubs at Indira Colony and Sector 25 have been developed. Now from June07, CSCA has taken upon itself full responsibility of all such clubs in the slum areas of UT, Chandigarh.

"VANITA"-WHY THIS NAME?

Vanita, the evocative word meaning ‘woman’, is the name of the innovative project conceived by Chandigarh Senior Citizens’ Association. It has been designed to promote health and empowerment of destitute old women residing in UT Chandigarh. It seeks not just to replicate the success of the Ganga Devi Club but go further and make a difference in the lives of its members through the following activities:

  1. Healthcare.
  2. Utilization of existing skills through self-help groups for economic advancement.
  3. Training in new skills.
  4. Grooming and hygiene to promote self respect and dignity.
  5. Assistance in dealing with the administration.

Under this project, a number of centres will be opened in or near different colonies and slum areas.

MEMBERSHIP

Each centre will have between 20 and 30 members living in nearby areas. Preference will be given to widows or women who have no able-bodied male members to look after them. For ease of formation of self-help groups, members will be identified by specific skills like embroidery, tailoring, toy making, painting, mehndi application and traditional crafts. Knowledge of such skills will not, however, be a mandatory pre-requisite for membership.

ACTIVITIES

The centre will, to start with, function twice a month at a time convenient to all members, say, 11 a.m. by which time they would have finished their pre-lunch chores. Every meeting will start with a bhajan and will include collective (or community) grooming followed by talks or discussions on personal hygiene and social issues. There will also be group games and exchange o skills. Group activities like folk music and dancing will help inculcate a feeling of ‘belonging’ to the group. Light refreshments will be provided to members before the close o the meeting.

All members will be given a routine medical check-up at periodic intervals and those needing them will be provided basic medicines. Members suffering from age-related infirmities like cataract, joint pains or loss of hearing will be assisted in getting specialist treatment in Government run Hospitals.

INFRASTRUCTURE

An essential pre-requisite for opening a centre is availability of suitable accommodation. If necessary on time-sharing basis, Community centres built by the Municipal Corporation, other Institutions may also like to pit in, as they have done for the Association-run physiotherapy centres. In some cases the accommodation may already stand allotted to some other NGO. In such cases we shall need to work out a Net-working arrangement with that NGO to ensure optimal utilization.

FUNDS

Members who join the centre may be the poorest of the poor but they, too, have self-respect and dignity. Most of them, in their working days, must have toiled rather than use the demeaning option of begging. They must in no circumstances get an impression that they are living on charity. To this end, all assistance will be institutionalized in the form of medicines, appliances and refreshments. Members of the Association and sister NGOs may like to contribute in cash and/ or kind for this highly laudable enterprise. They will be requested to extend their support to Chandigarh Senior Citizens’ Association .in this venture.

ORGANISATION

Secretary (Projects) assisted by one or two other members of the Governing Body, will be the Convener of “Project Vanita”. Two to four members will be nominated as Counsellors at each centre for day-to-day functioning. They will be hand-picked for their communication skills, motivation and commitment/ ability to get the members identify with them. They will be responsible for maintaining all records and ensuring the success of their respective centres.

RESULT EXPECTED

Given all-round goodwill and the determination to make a difference, we are confident that Chandigarh Senior Citizens’ Association will be instrumental, with the assistance o other NGOs and philanthropic agencies, in improving the quality of lie of at least a few older persons and, through them, spread the message of health and empowerment.

CONCLUSION

Chandigarh Senior Citizens’ Association has, since inception, made extension o service to ALL senior citizens, members or not, its credo. “Project VANITA” is a reiteration o our resolve to look after the weaker sections in the senior citizen community

God willing, WE will succeed!