The Quality of Life Trust has been caring for elders who have no other support since 2006. Recently the Trust have been working on a small Old Age Home to house some of these old people.
In India, the primary support for old people is from their family, particularly the oldest son. But what happens to old people when there is no one to care for them? Perhaps the son has moved away to a big city, or has a problem with alcohol, or has died? Then the old people are basically abandoned and left on their own without any support, maybe without any place to live. It is these kinds of people that Quality of Life helps.
They found a small house, built for Indians. Rent was cheap, so for a poorly funded nonprofit trust, this is a good choice.
The house has three small rooms and a toilet. Not much living space, so the Trust decided to increase the space by building a thatched roof to expand the area that can be used.
In the photo below, workmen have started to build the thatched roof.
An inside photo for the roof construction.
Men are sitting on the bamboo poles that make the roof’s structure.
They are tying woven coconut leaves onto the structure.
Here is what it looks like, partially built.
Men are working overhead. The man on the ground passes materials to the workers.
Two of the workmen.
Now the roof has been finished. It will be waterproof, dry inside, when it rains. It will have ceiling fans installed, and will be pretty cool inside.
Carol and Dhakshinamoorthy (of Quality of Life Trust) stand in the new part of the building.
The next step is painting.
The outside will be repainted, too. Here it is before the repainting.
And after new paint is applied.
Paint on interior walls.
The next step is wiring for lights and fans.
It is a man and his son, maybe 12 years old, helping.
Plastic tubing is cut and wired, and the wiring then brought out to wire up light fixtures.
This is certainly different electrician’s work that you would see in the West.
These workmen seem adept at walking on the poles.
Plastic conduit tubing, cut to fit with a hacksaw.
Work has to be done around the edges of the building to make sure that water runs out when it rains.
Here is the new space, now wired for power.
Another photo of the building. Small, right?
Inside concrete work, helping to insure that it stays dry inside.
A nice sign was also painted on the building.
An Arunachala graphic painted in the corner of the sign.
The fans have been installed now.
While this work was going on Dhakshinamoorthy took me to a house about 3 km away.
There is an old man and woman in the house. They have no family to care for them. The man hurt his leg, and now they have no food, and no one to help care for them. Dhakshinamoorthy wants to help. We all agree.
There is a walker at the Old Age Home that is not being used. Maybe this will help the man. He cannot walk. I saw him as he crawled out of the house to a place outside where he could go to the bathroom. Seeing this makes me want to cry for this family.
Back at the new Old Age Home, these are three of the people who will live in the new home.
We have to get them beds now. So we go to town, to a good store in Tiruvannamalai.
While they are looking at the beds, I see something that is fascinating. This is an electric bell ringing machine, that will be used in a shrine to ring pooja bells.
Another device in this store is an electric grinder for home use.
Many items in South Indian cookery are ground before use. In the center of this machine are a stone mortar and pestle. These are big labor saving devices over the manual ones that were used for thousands of years here.
One kind of bed available is this steel bed, basically steel sheeting on a frame and legs, used as a bed. These are durable, but not too comfortable.
Another kind of bed is this webbed bed on a tubular metal frame.
They have decided on the webbed beds. A stack of them have been brought out.
They sit on the beds to test them out.
Dhakshinamoorthy pays for the beds and mattresses.
Below, a bed set up in the Old Age Home. Mattresses will be delivered soon.
One of the men, Nataraj, tests out the bed.
Another man tests a bed, too. He is happy. For him this is real luxury, not to sleep on a mat on the floor.
He wants to try out the walker too. He does not need it, though. I think it is his wife standing behind him.
Here is a photo of the completed home, with Arunachala in the background.
Now it is time for the pooja, to officially open the new Old Age Home. Dhakshinamoorty’s son Nehruji brings in a picture of gods to use for the pooja.
People are dressed in their best clothes for the pooja. Mattresses and pillows are now on the beds. A dormitory has been set up in the new room built by the thatching.
Below, two of the old women who will live here, on the right, and Nataraj on the left. Of the people that the Trust started caring for six years ago, most have died and been replaced. Nataraj is one of the originals who still survives.
A man and his wife sitting on the bed. I can’t imagine what happened in their lives that they are here now, in this home.
Getting the pooja materials laid out.
A brick has been turned into an altar. The gods sit in the background. For today’s pooja, gods have been made from brown mud, with a kind of sacred grass in the top. These are covered with yellow turmeric and red kumkum.
A flower mala is given to the Gods.
The camphor is lit and the flame offered to the gods.
Then the camphor flame is taken around so that everybody here can ‘Take the light’.
And lastly, the flame is offered to Arunachala.
Here are the men of the Quality of Life Trust, Ramesh, Dhakshinamoorthy, and I do not know the name of the man on the right.
After the pooja, food is served to all.
Nataraj will not let us give him a plate until everybody else has been served.
We took a pooja plate to the elderly couple who live 3 km down the road that the Trust is now helping. They should be included, too. You can see the dressing on the man’s leg. We will take him to the doctor soon.
This is really noble work that is done by this trust. These are people that the Indian society is not prepared to care for. I am thankful that there are people like Dhakshinamoorthy who will step up and make a difference in their lives. I am of an age that any of these men could be me, under different circumstances.
I also ask you to see if you can help support this effort. An easy way to do this is to use your PayPal account and send me (email@example.com) a donation. I will make sure that the funds get to the Trust and is used for these old people. There are other ways you can donate. Send me an email and I will tell you how. Your donation will make a difference in the lives of these old people, as well as others elders cared for by the Trust who are not in these photos.
If you are in Tiruvannamalai you can donate in person at Sathya’s Cafe on Perumbakkam Road. The proprietor, Dhakshinamoorthy, is the force behind Quality of Life Trust.
Note: I will be travelling for the next month. If you do send me an email, I may not be able to answer quickly. I will answer, though.