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160 years old Pune icon stands out for taking care of the elderly

Elderly residents of Niwara Old Age Home in Pune enjoying an outing (Pic. Courtesy niwaraoldagehome.in)

In the twilight years of life, people need company and care which unfortunately is not available for many. Providing for these requirements and much more is Niwara Old Age Home in Pune which has been rendering service for the last 160 years.

Today, there are 88 women and 38 male residing at this Home with a group of dedicated staff taking care of them.

In 19th Century, a group of Indian reformers – Sardar Kibe, Sardar Raste, Sardar Natu, Justice M.G. Ranade and Namdar G.K. Gokhale – came together on August 9, 1863, as they were concerned about the plight of the elderly who were ailing and had no one to take care off. They approached the British authorities and were allotted land at Thosar Paga near Muthu river for “Pune Infirm Asylum” on February 8, 1864.

The refuge was renamed as “David Sassoon Inform Asylum” when Sir David Sasoon, a well-known philanthropist of that period, donated Rs.50,000 for this cause.

Niwara Old Age2 Sassoon Family
The Sassoon family visiting the Niwara Old Age Home for which one of their forefather’s contributed Rs.50,000

To make their stay pleasant, the Home which is located in an area of five acres is covered with trees with a number of the plants having name tags. The inmates of the Home are allowed to plant saplings and look after them. Apart from gardening, they can also attend events including yoga sessions, weekly bhajans, and carrom games.

The Home houses several facilities for the aged residents like a spacious dining hall for eating meals, an auditorium to perform or watch a performance or event, a library which boasts of a wide collection of books and instruments like harmonium.

This year in October, Niwara is all set to begin a new programme in collaboration with the Institute for Psychological Health. It will also start training modules to help the elderly know and learn about chess, technology and gardening.

Niwara is ready to celebrate 160 years on August 9 with a programme in which several artists are expected to participate.