This Pakal Veedu (day home) serves as a shining example of how a closely knit community can spread joy among all.

A day home in Tripunithura leads the way caring for the old young and the sick
news Inspiration Wednesday, October 05, 2016 - 16:33

A double-storey building near the Ayyamballikkavu Devi Temple near Vytilla in Kochi is a special place for many -especially the marginalized- in Ernakulam.

The structure belongs to the Tripunithura Municipality and is a rarity named ‘Pakal Veedu’ (day home) that doubles up as a home for many in the area.

The ground floor houses an ‘anganwadi’ (courtyard shelter started by the Indian government to combat hunger and malnutrition in children) operating from one of the rooms, while an adjoining room is dedicated to senior citizen gatherings. The remaining one room on the top floor-an amply-spaced hall- functions as a daycare centre for the mentally ill.

The senior citizens’ room has a small kitchen, a few chairs, benches and a television. Around 25 elderly women gather there almost daily to discuss about everything under the sky. The adjacent anganwadi is an added attraction for them, as they get to spend quality time with the little kids next door.

“As we become old, it is very difficult to sit all alone at home with no one to talk to or share our thoughts. Our grandchildren go off to school, while our children go for work. So all the ‘left alone’ grandmothers come here to spend time together,” 70-year old Narayani Amma says, while speaking to The News Minute.

“Here, we have someone to talk to. We can share our feelings with each other, maybe fight or shout at each other…but no one stays angry for long,” she adds with a toothless grin.

They had grandfathers too in the past to give them company, but then the grandmas found the grandpas too ‘naughty’ for their taste. So the males were ousted from the pack, with even a resolution being passed to that effect.

The club was earlier run by the Municipality but later, the Lions Club took over the sponsorship. Lunch is free for its members.

“All of us are 65 and above. More than our own company, it is the kids at the anganwadi who give us more happiness. We play with them, sing songs for them and narrate stories,” shares Kalyani, 68.

Natesan -a former municipal councilor- believes that the children who frequent the anganwadi are made to feel at home with the presence of these grandmothers.

“Having grandparents around….the stories they tell, the songs from the past… all these are something which most kids of the present generation sorely miss out on. But here, the children actually benefit from having these grandmas around. It will undoubtedly contribute in their overall development in the long run,” he opines.

The hall on top also has a small kitchen and a few beds lined up. The mentally ill -around ten of them- are dropped daily by family members in the morning and are picked up in the evening.

The services of a staff nurse and a physiotherapist are available to the patients all through the day. This facility is jointly run by the Municipality and the state health department.

“With a mentally-challenged person at home, family members often find it difficult to go for work. Since all of them hail from impoverished backgrounds, jobs are more of a necessity than an option, as far as they are concerned. The Pakal Veedu hence is of help to the family as well as the patients, in that sense,” remarks Rajesh –the physiotherapist.

Though 65-year old Lakshmi Amma -who is under treatment for psychosis- expressed her irritation about the tea that is served in the morning, it was obvious that she looked forward to the company of the kids next door: “Where are they? They have not come today.”  Pointing to the staff nurses Vishnu and Rajesh, she adds as an afterthought, “I like it here…they are nice.”

Both the grandmas and the anganwadi kids make it a point to regularly visit and spend time with them. “They are happy when they are surrounded by people. The children make them laugh and play. Even the grandmas pitch in with help,” says Rajesh.

This Pakal Veedu serves as a shining example of how a closely knit community can -with little acts of kindness- spread joy among all.

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