The Bridda ashram (elderly home) at Pashupatinath is not just a home for elderly citizens who are alone and marginalized. Rather, it is a foundation where humanitarianism serves the need of the needy people who have retired due to old age. We must work out together to preserve the foundations of humanity by helping and reaching for them together and building alliance with government to make sure that our elders are respected when they reach a milestone of their life and we become disciplined and become moral to keep their spirits alive.
WHAT IS THE PRESENT CONDITION OF PASHUPATI BRIDDA ASHRAM?
Overall the condition is stable. From food, cloth and shelter Pashupati Bridda Ashram have taken care of the needs of the elderly citizens.
PEOPLE FROM WHAT BACKGROUNDS HAVE COME HERE AT PASHUPATI BRIDDA ASHRAM? WHAT IS THE LEGAL PROCESS?
People who don’t have a family, who are alone and don’t have any property and no care takers come here. According to the Senior Citizen Act 2063 nobody can come here and leave the elderly citizens and go away. It is unlawful and we don’t accept this procedure. We need confirmation letter from the ministry after investigation and recommendation letter. Then only we can keep elderly citizens here. Now days there are other old age homes also in Nepal. Those who can afford and have their own property live of comfort at old age homes. But in our case the elderly people have no one to take care of them and no property from which they can live their lives.
WHAT DIFFERENCES DO YOU FIND IN THE LIFE OF ELDERLY CITIZENS BETWEEN HOME AND OLD AGED HOMES?
Right from birth to blood relation and family ties there is a great difference between home and old aged homes. What we do come out of humanitarianism and social cause. I believe the services we are giving to elderly citizens are better than what they get at home. We have given facilities for the disabled. Nurses and caretakers are giving them health care and sanitation hygiene. They are fed on time and looked after with care and this cannot be possible even while they are in their own homes.
PASHUPATI BRIDDA ASHRAM IS PRIMARILY FOR ELDERLY CITIZENS WHO ARE DISABLED. WHAT ARE THEIR THOUGHTS ARE THEY FEELING HAPPY OR SAD?
I have been here for more than three years but not received single complaint and have been said they want to go back home. If we separate blood relations there is no other reason to substitute that we have been nothing less than a home. Our dedication is sincere and we also celebrate festivals like Dashain and Tihar and they are happy to celebrate it together.
WHAT IS THE FREQUENCY OF VISITS FROM THEIR FAMILY MEMBERS AND RELATIVES?
Generally people who have no one to look after them are here. When we didn’t have rules some peoples’ daughter came to visit their Parents. Sons were not seen making visits. Sometimes family members came to see them but not to a large extent.
HOW OFTEN DO ELDERLY PEOPLE RECALL THEIR FAMILY MEMBERS AFTER THEY HAVE SETTLED HERE?
Personally they are not indifferent with their thoughts and feelings for their kin. But they have never come and said to us that we didn’t allow their relatives and family members to visit them while they are staying here. Some request us to call up their family and we make telephone calls and they talk to them on telephone.
ARE THE FACILITIES OF PASHUPATI BRIDDA ASHRAM ADEQUATE? IF NOT THEN WHAT ARE THE AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT? HOW CAN WE MAKE IT EVEN BETTER?
This is a Government’s old age home. We don’t have problems with how to run it. The only problem is little manpower. Elderly citizens are classified as able and disabled. The latter needs more care and attention. We have also recruited volunteers to help us and without them it would be difficult for us to look after daily needs of 230 elderly people. We have only 29 manpower so we are taking a lot of help from the volunteers. For additional manpower we should request government for their arrangements. Volunteers are given letters of appreciation after 90 days of service. We have lack of manpower not volunteers. Even if there are no volunteers tomorrow government must recruit manpower. Our buildings are also very old. We need to keep people according to things as it is. We can’t change on our own. Infrastructure is not adequate to address the needs. We are trying to take these issues to the government for re-construction.
THOSE PEOPLE WHO LEAVE THEIR PARENTS UNATTENDED AT OLD AGE HOMES, WHAT WILL BE YOUR MESSAGE FOR THEM? WHAT LESSON SHOULD WE LEARN FROM THIS?
Generally, those who don’t have any option for taking care of themselves, for those I have nothing to say. But, for those who have owned property from their parents and then discard them, they must know that humanitarianism is present in people those who don’t have any family ties or blood relations with each other, such people are also looking after elderly citizens. If we are their kin then we should learn a lesson from it because it is foremost our responsibility to be there for them. We must fulfill our responsibilities because if nobody does then people will have to bear the same fate.