On Saturday, 28th March 2015 we have planned an annual Sanskar Varg donation trip to Om Ashram, Old age Care. Omashram provides residential care with full boarding & lodging facility to the old with medical care-nursing care to the old belonging mostly to poor & middle class individuals (above 60 years of age) of all denominations.
In SanskarVarg, last session all the students participated in the discussions regarding Grandparents, they enthusiastically shared their views-concerns-opinions about their grandparents. Based on the discussions I have decided to take all the students to the old age home to educate students about the importance of taking care of the elderly people, respecting them and making them feel valued and secured. Some students were surprised at the mention of the old age homes, some were shocked to know that grandparents couldn’t live with their children, some got curious to know more about the trip to the old age care. With mixed emotions we started planning our trip.
Even though all the students showed great interest to go to the old age home but unfortunately half of the class students couldn’t come for the trip for different reasons and few dropped at the very last minute. So at the end we were only ten who actually visited the old age home.
Finally the day had arrived, 28th March, we all reached the organization by 3pm. All the kids and parents got different grocery items, bedsheets, blankets etc for the organization as per the list given by the Om Ashram. Smt. Meenakshiji gave us a warm welcome. She made us feel comfortable and at ease. Later we took a tour of the ashram and met each and every grandma and grandpa.
First thing we noticed was, all the grandparents were dressed up in beautiful-colorful clothes (especially grandmas those who could wear sarees) for the event. As we started interacting to them the initial enthusiasm turned into a totally different feeling. Some of them were physically ok but mentally ill, some were bedridden, some decided to stay away from their family & some were abandoned from their family. Although it was very hard to believe that the people you love-care for could abandon you one day. We all talked to them then the class kids sang bhajans, shlokas for them and the best part was in return, they too sang melodious bhajans and shlokas for us…especially a 98 years old Granny, who sang amazingly, in fact after talking to her – seeing her, we all understood age is just a number – salute to her enthusiasm & liveliness. There was another granny who had a severe throat problem and underwent a surgery sometime back but was very passionate about singing and she too sang couple of songs beautifully- she has a good knowledge of different Sanskrit stotras and their meanings too – kudos to her knowledge & of course never give-up attitude. We met a grandma who was very highly educated-math researcher and ex-principal of a school but now she was completely bedridden, it surely gave us a totally different perspective of life – Life is unpredictable – so live in the present moment.
During the tour we met number of grandpas too, some of them were freedom fighters, workers etc.. We met a grandpa who was very social and he talked with us, shared his memories and he too sang couple of prayers for us. Another grandpa was very enthusiastic, he was 87 years old and a freedom fighter and we together took few pictures with him. Each and every grandma-grandpa had a special story to tell and even though we couldn’t talk to some of them because of the language barrier but we could see-feel & understand them – sometimes actions-emotions speak louder than words and whenever needed Meenakshiji came to our rescue. The tour surely was an eye opener in many ways.
Later, the cofounder and managing trustee smt. Geetha Shankar lightened the atmosphere with her wonderful –interactive talk. Her speech was simple yet inspiring. Geethaji summarized in simple words by emphasizing on giving time-care and love to the elderly people, she said, “They (elders) don’t know what you have donated, how much you have donated, why you are here but what they know and will remember is that, you came here spent two hours with them, talked to them and showed care and respect for them and that’s what they all want.” She surely encouraged us to visit them again.
Overall we had a great-memorable experience at OmAshram. This visit helped us in many ways and through this trip we could educate our kids on some important values and life skills regarding taking care, respecting and valuing elders and other human beings.
Thank you Om Ashram for giving us this opportunity.