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” Orphan elders” are older people who have outlived all their family and are neglected by their kith and kin, therefore they don’t have any caregivers. They are a largely ignored population whose numbers are expected to burgeon with the medical explosion that has paved way for a longer life and smaller families. Neglect is the most common form of abuse towards orphan elders at 48.7 % followed by emotional, financial and physical abuse.
SCAD helps give the orphan elders a life of dignity through programmes including a monthly old age pension, medical assistance, elders’ self help groups and annual exposure visits for elders.
One such exposure visit was organized for the elders by SCAD’s Mr. Velmurugan, who is responsible for the Elders Programme and is loved by the elders just as he loves them. Around 50 elders excitedly took part in the exposure visit to Kanyakumari on Sunday, 22nd April, 2012. The group left with a prayer in the early morning. Everyone enjoyed the travel time with the elders and the SCAD staff dancing and singing and cracking jokes. On the way to Kanyakumari, they visited Thiruparappu Falls and all the elders enjoyed taking a bath in the waterfalls. Shamsudheen, a differently abled elder, happily said,
“Being physically challenged, I have never had the chance of visiting any tourist spot or places of interest. This is the first time that I am taking bath in a waterfall and I am thankful to SCAD for having given me this wonderful opportunity.”
From there they went to a place called Maathur to see the Hanging Bridge and visited a temple. Finally, on reaching Kanyakumari, the elders visited places of historical importance such as Vivekanandha Rock, Gandhi Memorial, Thiruvalluvar statue and most of all enjoyed seeing the sun-set at around six o’ clock. Then they went on a shopping spree and enjoyed buying themselves little things. With their shopping they started for home, but with heavy hearts as this memorable day had come to an end.
On Friday, 27th April, 2012, around 25 elders enthusiastically took part in the exposure visit to the hilly area of Kaaraiyaar, where they viewed the dam, went on a stroll amongst the herbal garden, visited the Pabanasam falls and the temple nearby and played a few light games. Next they went to the river banks of Mookudal, where the elders enjoyed bathing for some time.
Mrs. Petchammal cheerfully said, “All my life it was my dream to go on a picnic to some nice place for a day, which was never fulfilled. This dream of mine has come true towards the end of my life; thanks to SCAD.”