For 19 years, the David Jayasundara Elders Home in Keselwatte, Panadura has been sheltering aged men and women of different backgrounds, from different areas, muttering different life stories. Altogether 30 inmates receive care, comfort and companionship, once lost or denied to them.
“The Government offers 10 Rupees a day per person, which we don’t accept. We strive solely upon public donations,” said Mr. Sunanda Aponsu, whose service has been consistent for the last 19 years.
He explained that the issues and the concerns they faced were many. The home harbours mainly unmarried, abandoned elders, who require not only basic needs like food, water and security but also physical assistance, mental support and special care.
- Seeks better Government support and public support
- Looks after the elderly abandoned by children
- Needs urgent repairs
The institution functions as a family. Piyadasa Jayakody, a spiritual devotee and a resident of 17 years initiates religious activities of the home. Former contractor Jayasinghe helps out with tiling, garden work and small building projects despite lingering paralysis.
The elderly women get-along like old friends and expressed the joy they had found since joining the David Jayasundara Elder’s Home. Sixty-seven-year-old Alice, in particular, was eager to share her story. Having worked for a family residing in Colombo 07, she recalled how her loyal service of almost 15 years met only ingratitude.
Institutionalized and forgotten, her old age and misshapen legs were the least of her woes.
“Not a single call in over eight months,” she expressed.
Thirty individuals reflect and regret, some unable to vocalize their thoughts and others like Srilal Abeyweera more than willing.
His unfortunate tale was yet another; echoing through the home. He related to the Daily Mirror how he “ Fell into hardship by trying to live a fair life,” plunged into “Ill-treatment” and scandal, lost his money, his family and his will to move forward.
For fulfilling the traditional duties neglected by children toward their parents, for taking in those unloved and forgotten, it is only fitting that the public sees to the welfare of the Home
Hailing from Kotte, where he attended CMC, he was once a well-earning crane-operator and a contributor to the home’s welfare. Save for one of his children working abroad, he had no others. “If we can get the support of the Government, it will be a great help, there are so many elderly people, who have been ill-treated by their families, but our caretakers have been like our mother and father,” he expressed in gratitude for his new found family.
At present, Abeyweera wishes to find a driving job to utilize his ability and experience. Depression and mental agony is a common problem among the residents, but so are paralysis, sensory defects, and other age-related (Geriatric) diseases. Numbly bed-ridden or pensive on a wheel-chair, their silence carries the grief they cannot vocalize. The burden of hospital runs, sorting out medicine and treatment and other consequent tasks are also shouldered by the caretakers.
They not only dedicate their time and effort but also sacrifice their personal lives. Their own struggles are disregarded amidst the hardships of these invalids. “The hand I use to feed myself is the same one I use to clean and wash these elders. We look away for a moment, and they have dirtied themselves, ruined their clothes and beds,” Indrani Silva, a caregiver of 12 years described her demanding role in this manner. “These are not our mothers and fathers, we also have lives, but we sacrifice our meals, our personal matters and desires. I am married and I have children, I am also human...” she said.
The home harbours mainly unmarried, abandoned elders, who require not only basic needs like food, water and security but also physical assistance, mental support and special care
The task of caring for someone’s unloved ones has denied her the pleasure of seeing her own loved ones. Being a Government-based institution the home is able to reimburse billed purchases, but Mr Aponsu explained that most transactions were done at the market or street groceries, where they receive no evidence of expense. Furthermore, renovations and repairs are long over-due and require funding.
The caretakers also elaborated on legal entanglements with families, falsely blamed prescription errors, conflicts in the neighbourhood, which make their job a lot harder. “Dry rations and clothing were urgently requested, for despite insufficiency, “Three main meals are provided without failure,” according to Mrs Silva. The patience, compassion and dedication required to serve in such a place are demanding as it is, but having to persevere under scarcity and lack of support is inconceivable. For fulfilling the traditional duties neglected by children toward their parents, for taking in those unloved and forgotten, it is only fitting that the public sees to the welfare of the Home.
Assistance in any form or quantity will be greatly appreciated.
Pix by Pradeep Dilrukshana
The Home needs support in many forms. For further information; 0382287795/ 0383385944/ 0718326778