According to a recent newspaper article, in Nepal there are about 1.5 million elderly people above the age of 60 who constitute about 6.5 % of the population. The average life expectancy of a common Nepali has been rising. However there is a lack of policies for the care of the elderly, and specialties like Geriatrics virtually do not exist. In Thimi, a town of about 60,000 people, there are no services for the elderly at all.
Traditionally, Newars live in extended family groups where everyone has a place and is cared for. However with the rapid increase in population, and the big change in life style, this system is breaking down in some cases. Young people are moving to big cities or abroad in increasing numbers. Even if the elderly person does live at home, the family may not give them much attention or support.
In the streets of Thimi we often see old people, alone or in groups. The only social activity available to them is singing religious songs at the temple. In the nearest city to Thimi, Bhaktapur, for the last few years, there has been a very successful initiative where a centre for the aged has been established in the grounds of a community hospital. The day centre is open 5 days a week. Between 50 and 60 people attend every day at no cost to them. Staff from the attached residential centre socialize them and are able to find out any problems they can help with. School children are encouraged to visit e.g. on mothers’ day local children brought gifts and snacks. Tea and lunch are provided as well as other activities e.g. yoga exercises. Religious leaders are encouraged to come with their musical instruments and lead singing.
Inspired by this example, staffs, students and ex-students of Vinayak Shiksha Niketan as well as members of Experience Nepal would like to extend the hand of friendship to include the elderly in Thimi.
The opening ceremony of this centre took place on 30th May 2009.In the presence of the representatives of important community groups of Thimi and Margaret Hounslow, a volunteer from Australia. About 30 elderly people enjoyed welcome and refreshments
We are fortunate to have access free of charge to a suitable spacious downstairs venue .This centre will be open initially for one day per week starting from Saturday,6th June 2009 .The elders will be warmly welcomed by our volunteers and given free refreshments. Initially, the elders will enjoy singing together with musical accompaniment. On future occasions, our talented young people could entertain with traditional instruments and songs. Many people practise yoga here, and a yoga session would be both popular and beneficial. Religious leaders would be welcomed to lead traditional chanting. We plan to arrange visits from doctors and nurses, and provide the necessary medicine according to our capacity. We would encourage crafts like knitting by providing wool and tuition.
Vinayak School has offered the use of their school bus to transport the elderly on e excursions to places of interest.
Local donations in cash and kind are being sought in Thimi
As a priority, we have already established a committee of respected Thimi citizens to plan support and monitor our programme. We have also opened a bank account with the local cooperative society- thanks to anonymous donations. However, in the beginning all donations should be channeled thorough Friendship Education Support Services until all government requirements can be met by Thimi Elderly Care Centre.
All donations from within Nepal will be properly acknowledged and receipted by our committee. The donations from overseas will be acknowledged and receipted by Friendship Education Support Services (FESS).
How you can help:
Funds are needed for set up: carpet and cushions , cups, plates, kettles stove , a small sound system and musical instruments etc. All these things are available in Thimi at very reasonable cost
Ongoing expenses: gas, tea, coffee, sugar, rice , lentils, vegetables etc. In winter we would like to distribute blankets and warm clothing to those who need them.