The silver lining-Sr Citizens can be a formidable force for any development programme

                                  A Silver Lining
Senior Citizens can be a formidable force in any development
programme. Take for instance, a group of seniors in Bangalore who
are bringing much cheer into the lives of underprivileged kids.
           By Monika Chauhan
              “From what we get, we can make a living;
             what we give, however, makes a life.”
          —Arthur Ashe

Catering to the basic needs of the children, the group of senior citizens has also been facilitating Akshay Patra Mid day Meal
Scheme which provides a nutri- ous mix of ragi and jaggery for break­fast to thechildren.

 The never-ending journey called life can surely be beau­ tiful if we lose our­ selves in the service of others. For similar reasons, Senior Citizens Bangalore (SCB), an NGO formed by senior citzens in 2001, doesn’t believe in the tenet that retirement means you retire from life, it’s more about embracing anew start to your life. From a humble beginning with four retired men providing a few pair of shoes to needy school children, to lending a helping hand to local schools in taking care of the children’s health, nutri­ tional and academic needs the NGO has come a long way from four founding members in 2001 to almost 70 members and more. Located in Indiranagar, Bangalore, the NGO today supports almost 4,000 children and young adults, thereby helping 14 primary and upper primary schools in improving the lives of the underprivileged. Out of these 14 schools, 13 are situated in and around Bangalore, and one is in Hoskote. The NGO also extends sup­ port to three PU colleges and one degree college, besides running a skill development programme and supporting a destitute home in Hennur.“Our recent additions include professional courses and post graduation,” The Better India quotes Chair­ man BS Lamba as saying. “The addition of colleges is because we found out our students were doing extremely well and they needed a support pro­ gramme financially, and dation. The Foundation also offers basic skill development courses at RBANMS School premises on Dickenson Road, Bangalore. The idea of joining hands with Unnati Founda­ tion was proposed by one of SCB’s members, 93-year-old Mr. Parthasarathy, explains Mr. Lamba. The Skill Development Cen­tre offers students at PU level and above with a 50-day soft- skills training programme. A professional soft-skills trainer conducts the training with support from SCB member Arun Sinha, who is a personal executive trainer himself. After the completion of training programme, SCB ensures placements for these students; the last batch com­ prising around 85 students placed received salary levels of approximately 30,000.
It is worth mentioning here that the course is being offered free of cost to these students. The NGO is taking
into consideration “future industry requirements” through the course.Besides skill develop­ ment, SCB also sets aside a huge chunk of their funds for scholarships, especially for students in rural areas. “Our budget is ?15-16 lakh for scholarships,” Mr. Lamba quips. There has been  a  remarkable improvement in higher education with the introduction of scholarships, according to Mr. Lamba.
“In 2012, we gave scholarships for the first time in the school we support in Hoskote Taluk. We gave it to five girls. Today, one of them is doing engineering and the other is doing final year of BCA,” SCB Vice Chair­ man Shyam informs. “This year scholarships have been given to 106 girls. Their aver­ age result is around 80 per cent.” Drawing inspiration from their school life, the group is making continuous efforts to improve things for the chil­ dren they support. Three members have also made a contribution towards    funding   a   ?45   lakh   corpus   for scholarships. In a bid to encourage slow learners, Mr. Agarwal has
introduced an award titled Most Improved Student. “In a school, the teachers only know the top 10 students. The award is for those who are at the bottom of the class but have improved the maximum. Ever since we started it we have seen two advantages: the bottom of the class has come up, and the teachers have come to know the weaker students better,” Mr. Agarwal explains. The group has begun con­ ducting summer workshops in computers, tailoring, and beautician courses for girls from RBANMS High School this year. “The aim of the six-week programme was to enable children to learn a skill during the holidays,” says Mr. Lamba. It is worth mentioning here that some of the girls have now started working as part-time beauticians, and are earning a sufficient amount for their families during weddings and festivals. Catering to nutrition needs
of the children, the group has also been facilitating Akshay Patra Mid Day Meal scheme which provides “a nutritious mix of Ragi and jaggery” in breakfast to the children, shares their former chairman Bharat Sarronwala. The NGO has got tremen­ dous support from organizations like Kelloggs, Sankara Netralaya, Chinmaya Mission Hospital, and Dettol that have extended their support by providing food and health check-ups. The group com­ prises an executive commit­ tee of 15 members, most of whom are extremely active. Notwithstanding an average membership age of 75+, Senior Citizens Bangalore has accomplished a lot when it comes to socially empowering the underprivileged kids. Their success blossoms on their willingness to give something back to society. 
(Source: Secondary Research)

S C Maheshwari 


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