Kolkata has the highest percentage of population who are above 60 years, of all the metros (Times of India Report, 2011). Kolkata’s elderly are also the lowest in property ownership with only 2.9% of the elderly owning property (HelpAge India 2014 Report). Parichiti has been working since 2001 for the rights of women domestic workers in some of the most marginalised areas of Kolkata such as the slums Nonadanga, Shahid Smriti and Sonarpur. Over the years we have seen that those who were daily wage.
labourers are the poorest among the elderly. They often have no savings, pension, social security or way to continue earning a living. Majority of the Indian elderly (36.1%) earn below Rs. 2500 (HelpAge India 2014 Report). This makes healthcare unapproachable for them. They also suffer from loneliness and depression due to lack of attention from children, feeling of being unproductive and having no community to back them up. These issues are greatly exacerbated for those who were already among the lowest earning classes in their youth.
As a part of Kolkata Initiatives we have already begun community assessment through regular conversations with the elderly. We have carried out a formal and detailed community assessment which has covered a large demographic. From the knowledge and information we have already acquired we wanted to begin by opening a drop in centre which the elderly can access for various services and activities and have begun renovation of a house at Shahid Smriti to serve as our centre. Our initial program will consist of teaching communication skills and use of modern technology such as computer training and using mobile phones. To develop a community we will conduct story telling sessions and interactions with children and other elderly, indoor games and adda sessions with other elderly members. They will also be provided with daily medical camps, medical support and nutritional support. With time and experience we will enlarge the scope of this program to cover various other areas of support required by them.
It is the aim of Kolkata Initiatives to create a support system for the most neglected in our society – the poorest of the elderly. Our aspiration is to be able to create a space where the elderly will be able to find a solution for their personal as well as economic problems. We hope that you will help us in building a community of support for them.