Elders on journey to discover India

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They’re no Olympic champions, but the ‘reception’ arranged for them at the Egmore railway station this afternoon was just as grand.

Around 150 senior citizens from Cuddalore, Nagapattinam, Kollam and Puducherry on a ‘Vridh yatra’ to New Delhi, were greeted by railway police superintendent M. Thillai Natarajan and a crowd of well-wishers who plied them with fruits and other goodies for the journey, during the short stop at the station.

Most of the elders selected for the trip were either abandoned by their families or orphaned by the tsunami and now eke out a living running petty shops, poultry and dairy farming and fishing. This is the first time they have had the chance to travel outside the state.

Armed with a charter of demands, the large group is all set to meet president Pranab Mukherjee, a senior citizen himself.

Their demands range from mid-day meals for poor and destitute old people at Anaganwadi centers to the much-awaited national programme on healthcare for the elderly.

“It is a packed schedule for us. We are going to Agra first and then to New Delhi, where we will get a guided tour of the parliament house.

We will meet the President and ask him to address problems that old people across the country face. On October 1, observed as International Day for Older People, we are participating in a walkathon from Parliament to India Gate,” says Govindaswamy, 76, a retired fire officer from Puducherry.

“From Delhi, the Elders for Elders Foundation is taking us on a pilgrimage to Haridwar, Hrishikesh, Mathura and the beautiful Triveni Sangam in Allahabad,” says Lakshmi, 72, who lives at the Tamarikulam Elders village at Cuddalore.

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