December 23, 2011

INDIA: Senior citizens find a way to share hope

KOCHI, Kerala / The Times of India / News / December 23, 2011

It was nearly 14 years ago on Christmas that Thoma Devassay's life took a turn for the worst. Now confined to a wheelchair, Thoma says he feels blessed to be alive after the fateful motor accident that day.

Addressing a group of elderly people at the Madhavan Nair auditorium in Gandhi Bhavan in the city on Thursday, he presented a picture of hope and faith.

"I feel blessed to have the strength to face each day of my life," he said as the elders listened to his optimistic speech, sipping a cup of wine and nibbling a slice of plum cake.

"The idea of coming together is not just to celebrate the birth of Jesus. The birth gave hope, thus it is the birth of hope that we celebrate," signed off Devassy to an appreciating audience. It was for the first time that the 59-year-old was sharing his experiences and travails to a group of thirty senior citizens.

Devassy's speech was part of a concept called 'Pakal Veedu'. "In simple words it's day-care for the senior citizens," says advocate Rajendran.

He is one of the founding members of Pakal Veedu. A practicing advocate, at the age of 62 he had some of his friends pool in funds to start  in November last year.

The elders in the city, irrespective of any difference, can participate in Pakal Veedu which takes place every working day.

The concept is about keeping them engaged through discussions and activities. A home-cooked vegetarian meal is also provided. On Christmas Eve there will be Malayalam and English carols sung by the elders. Some of the women are planning to wear the traditional Kerala saree, while one of the elders from Palarivattom, Sugeendran has volunteered to be the Santa for them.

It was on a Christmas day 14 years ago that Thoma Devassay's life took a turn to the worst. Now confined to a wheelchair, Thoma says he feel blessed to be alive after the fateful motor accident. Addressing a group of elderlies at the Madhavan Nair auditorium in Gandhi Bhavan in the city on Thursday, he presented a picture of hope and faith.

"I feel blessed to have the strength to face each day of my life," he said as the elders listened to his optimistic speech, sipping a cup of wine here, nibbling a slice plum cake there.

"The point of us coming together is not just to celebrate the birth of Jesus. The birth gave hope, thus it is a birth of hope and that is what we all should celebrate, hope," signed off Devassy to an appreciating audience. It is the first time that the 59-year-old shared his experiences and travails to a group of thirty senior citizens.

Devassy was part of a concept called 'Pakal Veedu'. "In simple words it's day-care for the senior citizens," puts Advocate Rajendran jokingly. He is one of the founding members of Pakal Veedu. A practicing advocate at the age of 62, he had some of his friends pool in funds to start the Pakal Veedu in November 2010.

The elders in the city, irrespective of any difference, can participate in Pakal Veedu which happens on every working day. Here they are kept engaged by discussions, activities and a home-cooked vegetarian meal is provided. On the day of Christmas Eve there will be carols in Malayalam and English sung by the elders. Some of the senior women are planning to wear the traditional Kerala saree, while one of the elders from Palarivattom, Sugeendran has volunteered to be the Santa for them.

Copyright © 2011 Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd 

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