The Telegraph
Tuesday , April 15 , 2014
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NGO extends help to elderly

Senior citizens would find it easier to cast their votes this Lok Sabha elections.

In a noble gesture, the state chapter of HelpAge India has decided to let their members accompany the aged to polling booths on April 17.

Talking about the initiative, Girishchandra Mishra, the state chief of HelpAge India, said: “Senior citizens cannot stand in queues for long. So we decided to help senior citizens. Residents who need help can call on 18003451257 from 9am to 5pm. If someone calls beyond this timeframe, their voice would be recorded and we would be able to contact him/her later.”

Mishra said his NGO’s initiative is different as members who would accompany the aged would be senior citizens as well. “Many senior citizens’ associations based in Rajeev Nagar, Gardanibagh, Kankerbagh, Khagaul and others are associated with us. The members of these associations are elderly people. They are very active and physically fit. We have decided to engage them in our scheme. HelpAge doesn’t have sufficient manpower and so we thought of taking help from these associations,” added Mishra.

He said if the NGO comes across any genuine case in which the senior citizen requires a vehicle, the NGO would arrange for it.

“We won’t be able to arrange vehicles for all senior citizens. In few cases, senior citizens find it difficult to visit the booths because of their health. Some aged persons also have their own vehicles but they need someone to accompany them. We would arrange vehicles in selective cases,” said Mishra.

The senior citizens, naturally, are delighted with the plan. “It is a noble initiative taken by HelpAge. So far, I have not heard about this kind of an initiative taken by any individual or organisation. We hope the elderly would be benefited by this initiative. The scheme would motivate those senior citizens who lack interest in voting because of their poor health,” said Shyamji Sahay (72), a retired IAS officer and a resident of Patliputra Colony.

“My health condition does not allow me to go out. I don’t have the courage to venture out to cast my vote. I have a poor vision. My son is lives abroad and I live alone. Only if someone accompanies me to the polling booth would I be able to cast my vote. I am happy that finally some organisation has come forward to help us,” said Madhusudan Gupta (63), a resident of Kankerbagh.

The state chapter of HelpAge wants to ensure that senior citizens don’t face any kind of problem in the booths. It would send a letter to the district magistrate to ensure that senior citizens don’t have to wait in queue at the polling booths. “We are also going to ask the district magistrate to provide wheelchairs at the polling booths for the differently abled senior citizens,” said Mishra.