June 27, 2010

INDIA: French couple to be first residents at old age home for gays at Rajpipla

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VADODARA, Gujarat / The Times of India / June 27, 2010

By Darshana Chaturvedi, Times News Network

A couple from France will be the first residents of the country's first old age home for gays being constructed in Rajpipla on the banks of Narmada by gay prince and scion of Rajpipla's royal family, Manvendra Singh Gohil.

Moreover, this French couple will not just be mere residents, but are coming with plans to provide employment to their fellow occupants. The couple will cultivate spirulina (an algae fast becoming a popular health drug ingredient) near the home. With Gohil, they have in fact sowed the seed of this initiative by registering a company to run the project professionally but for a noble cause.

Bruno Choquet Despicq and Simon Evan Wrigley are in their early 50s and had met Gohil a few years ago. "Bruno wanted to start a project in India to grow spirulina and he was assured help by someone in Puducherry. But, things did not go as planned. That's when he came to meet me in Mumbai after reading about me in a popular French magazine. I invited him to Rajpipla and he instantly liked the place," shared Gohil.

In fact, the couple was expected to arrive last year, but the economic slowdown shelved their plans. "I will be providing the land to them near the old age home. They will take care of the rest by cultivating spirulina and turning it into medicine. Spirulina-based medicines help in boosting the immunity and is good for HIV positive people. "Part of the medicines will be exported to France and the rest will be given to me, which I will give to groups working with HIV positive people in India," added Gohil.

Gohil got interested in this project as it would provide gainful employment to other residents. "Both residents and caretakers will get a chance to earn while their stay at the home. This will keep them occupied and prevent them from depression traps," said Gohil, who is the first Asian to initiate a project to deal with issues faced by old gay men.

Gohil is also getting global support for the old age home with agencies in Australia and France assuring all help. "I have been invited for a fund raising event in France in November. Since the project is close to Narmada River, we will be making it eco-friendly place using solar, wind and water energy. I also plan to add a community hall for recreational activities for the residents," he said.

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