Kolkata youngsters help senior citizens make friends

Kolkata, April 28 (IANS) Senior citizens of the city need no longer feel friendless. A unique platform has been created by young people in the city to encourage the elderly meet, interact and forge bonds of friendship with others in their own age group.

The group is called ‘Baghban’ (gardener), and comprises volunteers who range in age from 20 to 50. The motto of the group is to create a forum for the elderly to overcome their inhibitions and reach out to people in situations similar to their own.

“It is not that many of them (the old) are not looked after well enough by their children… but they do feel lonely, and cannot find a way to meet and interact with others in their age group,” explained Mridula Mittal, the founder of the group.

“Our intention is to bring the senior citizens together through monthly meetings and various activities, so that they can get to know each other better,” Mittal told IANS.

As part of the endeavour, the programme — titled ‘Baghban (young) – Phulwari (old)’ meeting and held at a high-rise residential building in the city — brings together around 100 elderly participants in a bhajan-based game of “antakshari,” where they sing devotional songs in any language.

Members are also encouraged to tie friendship bands made of flowers to each other.

Seniors are encouraged to keep in touch with each other and greet each other over occasions like birthdays, and a directory has been compiled with addresses, phone numbers and birthdays.

The group also plans to launch a lending library initiative, so members can borrow books. “They will get to know each other’s tastes in different matters, and find out who likes to read what. We are not spoon-feeding them, just providing an opportunity so they can proceed to form friendships independently,” Mittal said.

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