Senior citizens bond for friendship

The members of friendship groups spending a happy moment during one of their meetings.

The idea of friendship groups was conceptualised by Vishwas Trust Director and social worker Olinda Pierera in order to offer an opportunity for recreational activities for the elderly. Based on the initial idea, some of the social work students accompanied by the social workers from Vishwas Trust conducted a survey in three areas namely in Bejai, Jeppu and Bajal where they learnt the requirements of the elderly and their interest in forming friendship groups in the form of questionnaires. Thus, Vishwas Trust mooted its idea of starting friendship groups in three different places of the city.

Speaking to City Herald, Olinda Pierera said that the friendship groups were started three months back and are working in three places of the city, apart from the very old friendship group that has been functioning in Valencia. “The elderly men and women are generally pushed to utter boredom as they would not have any outdoor activities and are confined to live a life within the four walls of a room. Taking note of this, we decided to come up with friendship groups which would help elderly from the neighbourhood to gather once in a while, share their happy moments and sorrows, discuss certain issues and likewise,” says Oilnda Pierera.

The groups which meet once in a week (once in fortnight during rainy season) for two hours or so, get an opportunity to play games, hold talks, interact with doctors and experts from other fields. Though the groups have started recently, they have 15-20 members on an average.

One of the members of friendship group from Bejai, Doris Menezes, the retired Principal of St Philomena High School, Puttur, said that the group has come up as a silver lining in the cloud. “Usually, we elderly are left in the lurch and get no activities to please ourselves.

Vishwas Trust’s initiative has helped at least a few elderly to get to know each other and build cordial relationship. Celebrating various fests with other elderly too is a joyful event. Considering my own case as I am someone who is not able to get out of my house due to illness, the friendship group activities that take place at my home provide me solace,” she says. However, she is of the opinion that most of the elderly are yet to understand the significance of forming such groups.

Wilfred D’Sa, another member of friendship group in Valencia, claims that he gets relaxed through friendship group activities. It has been a boon for the elderly in the region as we are no more confined to the four walls of our houses. “I wish such friendship groups come up in various other places of the city,” says Wilfred.

Olinda Pierera, who says that the purpose of forming friendship groups for the elderly has been served to some extent, has plans to form groups in parks and other areas of the city, provided she receives a positive response.

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