Ponvergal, is an association of elderly Ponvergal, women, promoted by Centre For Development Alternatives as part of its “Empowerment of Elder Women” project in 2002. It is jointly managed by the representatives of elders and AKSHAYA. At present, it caters to the medical and social needs of 90 elders. There is a vast scope for expansion.
‘’Elderly Living’’ is becoming a Social Concern in recent years, due to the shrinking family and the modern life style. Lack of planning and support systems to ease the ’’Elderly Living’’ in India makes things difficult. The issue, although common to all, elderly women in low-income groups are most affected due to their dependence on heirs and relatives for basic needs.
During the various interactions with the community and through a Baseline Survey, CFDA has identified elderly women suffering from social isolation, self-neglect, carelessness of family and the lack of concern of Government departments.
CFDA opted for a two pronged approach to address the issue, the first to create an awareness in the community about the preparedness for elderly living and the other to empower elderly women by promoting a grass root institution to secure their entitlements.
Accordingly, PONVERGAL was formed by a group of elderly women living in the target area in 2002. Ponvergal (‘’GOLDEN ROOTS’’.) denotes the GOLDEN age of the elderly and their social position in the families as ROOTS. The elders are our roots of origin, history and culture.
Women aged above 60 years, from low income groups are the members in the association. A few women in the age group of 50 and above are also admitted as members to serve as volunteers.
House visits to enquire the health of elders, sensitizing family members, distributing leaflets to public, conducting essay competitions in schools, discussions in MBGs/SHGs are some of the Awareness creation activities.
Organizing annual health camps, referral to speciality hospitals, quarterly medical check ups, facilitating cataract surgeries, provision of medicines/spectacles, nutrition orientation and demonstration, providing clothes to the needy are some of the recurring activities of Ponvergal.
Monthly get-together and annual pilgrim tours are the most appreciated activities by the members.
Celebration of ‘’Elders day’’ along with the families and neighborhoods, where competitions (games, rangoli, puzzles ) for elders are regular feature.
Elderly women visit nearby upper primary schools and perform story telling and singing for students. The best among them are selected by students and they are awarded in the Elders’ Day function.
A petition, signed by the elders and the communities, seeking Old Age Pension for the abandoned elders and medical insurance coverage, was submitted to the Union Finance Ministry as an advocacy initiative for the benefit of elderly population in the Country.