It is said in our country that one of the main duties of every Indian child is to take care of their elders. However, today’s society has chosen a convenient alternative for this responsibility, and some others have taken it over. Yo! Vizag was happy to visit the St. Joseph’s Home for the Aged.
Situated behind the St. Joseph’s Hospital, and tucked away into the trees, is an abode for the elderly. A well-kept green lawn welcomes you to the stone edifice that was built in 1978. Walk in and you see senior citizens sitting in groups and chatting, perhaps recounting stories long forgotten. Sisters walk around in their religious habits, assisting them. An old woman who’s graceful for her age walks by in a pretty dress and pearls.
St. Joseph’s Home for the Aged is an institution lovingly run by thirteen nuns. They take in the aged and give them a home to spend the rest of their lives. While the inhabitants of this institution aren’t young, the nuns who look after them aren’t either. The oldest, who recently celebrated her birthday, is a 102-year-old sprightly nun. The nun in-charge here though is Sister Jessy, a trained nurse from Kerala, who had taken the challenging decision of leaving behind her own family to dedicate her life to service.
The ages of the elderly who live here range between 60 and 80. Despite being abandoned, looking at them you wouldn’t realise that. That is not to say that they don’t feel the pain of being left there by the children they brought up, but they’ve just learnt to make the best of it. Sister Jessy makes it a point to never ask them about their families.
“I feel sad when they ask me why I’m wasting my life away serving them. It makes me wonder what they must have been through to feel that way. I serve these people because I see my parents in them. I never miss my family. Sometimes I feel bad about that but then I think of the people here. They are my family now,” says Sister Jessy.
The days here start with a morning prayer, followed by tea. After lunch, the elderly are free to spend their time as they wish till seven in the evening. A monthly check-up ensures their health stays in top shape and their meals are strictly planned out. Sister Jessy has a soft spot though and indulges them when they want fried snacks. Outings are few and far between. The only reprieve they are offered is when visitors come in to spend some time with them.
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