Elderly people are an integral part of our society and we should always cherish their loving presence. Currently, the world is going through a difficult phase where lives are at stake and people are emotionally and psychologically depressed due to the ongoing pandemic. The younger generation by dint of their vitality and mental strength are better placed to deal with the prevailing challenges and are doing better in carrying out their lives. Being dependent on others for support and daily needs, it is the elderly lot who happens to suffer most in this situation.
In India we believe that no elderly person should live their life in exile, away from love and care. Keeping this motto in mind, Baruipur district of West Bengal along with Narendrapur and Sonarpur have come together with the initiative named, ‘Saathi’, which aims at extending support to the local elderly community. Prior to this, there were other similar initiatives in Bengal, including – Pronam in Kolkata, Sanjh Banti in Salt Lake and New Town and Shraddha in Howrah. All these projects intended to help elderly people during hard times. Saathi is an addition to these programmes and is also formulated to protect and help the aged people. In an exclusive interview with The Optimist News, Rashid Munir Khan, IPS, Superintendent of Police, Baruipur, South 24 Parganas, shared some unique nuances of Saathi.
“We were aware that some of the elderly people living in the city and surrounding areas needed care and came up with the initiative to support them. After an initial delay due to sudden demise of former president of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, the project was finally launched on September 8 and is now running in full swing. Saathi is operational in all municipalities under the Baruipur District and also in parts of Sonarpur and Rajpur. These areas have elderly people who are homeless, helpless, or are devoid of caregivers. Our primary focus is to help them so that they don’t feel left out”.
Many senior citizens/elderly people now reside in the high rises that have sprung up in Kolkata and its conurbation. It is most definitely a daunting task to collate data on the senior citizens residing in these mushrooming towers that conspicuously dot the city’s skyline today.
Speaking on how Saathi works and how the database is collected the SP shared, “We have a dedicated team of police officers whom we call ‘Team Saathi’. In addition to this we have the ‘Saathi Card’ which carries the numbers of the Saathi police officers along with other relevant details. We have meticulously collected data from different residential complexes and have made a database of elderly people who are above 60 years of age.
Moreover, there is the Saathi website for the elderly people to get enrolled with help from local police stations. “Sathi is an inclusive initiative and aged people in need of doctors, emergency help or any other kind of assistance, can call the Saathi team by taking numbers from the card and the team will reach them instantly to offer assistance. We are there 24*7 for them, as we believe that it is not only our duty but our primary responsibility to make the senior citizens believe that they are not alone and helpless, that the society cares for them and help is just a call away,” concluded the SP.