Habit of watching soap operas on TV or movies on the cable/cinema hall could be troublesome for parents of school going children but for me it worked rather differently. Bollywood blockbuster AVTAR, featuring Rajesh Khanna, Shabana Azmi, and A.K. Hangal inspired me to work for senior citizens. I belong to a family whereby respect & regard for elders is the priority; patience, tolerance and truth are the guiding principles. I distinctly remember how my Dadaji used to tell me to read out news items from the Times of India when his sight deteriorated in old age while my grandmother – a pious, religious lady would keep herself busy, after my grandfather expired, by sewing falls on saree and the money thus earned given away in charity. For me, visualizing something like the one enacted by Shri A.K.Hangal Ji in the movie AVTAR was a major set back & set out on my goal of being of some help to the old. ARUSHI – meaning – DAWN (Surye ki Pehli Kirne) was thus launched in the year 2000. Before I could set out on registering it, interacted with senior citizens & the old and launched VIRASAT which was initially in the size of a tabloid but could not continue with it because of paucity of funds. Now VIRASAT in the form of a magazine is printed occasionally and I thought I should pen down a few lines about my experiences ever since ARUSHI was registered as a trust.
The trust was opened in July 2000 with Rs. 1000/- as the corpus amount. Asked the income-tax authorities, when we applied for 80-G exemption “What do you think, you will be able to do with Rs. 1000?” I said, “Sir, I have one thousand rupees, Mother Teresa had just Rs. 50” and ever since there has been no looking back. ARUSHI has been organizing programs for the old and the children meetings at the ARMY & CRPF headquarters paved way for helping children of martyrs and children of poor families by providing them educational assistance in the form books, copies, stationary & school uniform. From October 1, 2002 ARUSHI adopted 51 senior citizens of poor families mainly widows for their food & clothing. Ration is distributed monthly & clothes on occasions. ‘Where would the money come from? ’ asked a colleague ‘Have faith in God, he will take care of it’ came the reply.
It has not been an easy task convincing people for contributing towards the cause of senior citizens mainly for these reasons :- NGOs today seem to be making money & spending it for their personal use rather than on the cause (I cannot blame the masses for it because 90% of them are doing such a thing as that) ; secondly, rich people believe that spending lakhs of rupees on organizing KRISHNA JANAMASHTAMI, RAMLILA, DIWALI MELA, TEEJ is far better because it is a religious and humanitarian work & spending money on the old, who have outlived their utility to society, is financially strong & belongs to a family of millionaire – a status symbol you see. Accordingly, if you are from middle class family you do not have a right to help those who need help. But, I believe, God has not given the art of making money to everyone and since he has blessed some with that art, he has blessed others with the art of helping the underprivileged, through that money. We at ARUSHI are proud to belong to the second category. I started ARUSHI with my mother as MANAGING TRUSTEE since she was my idol, my given, my guide, my philosopher. I lost her in the year 2005 & I thought  I will not be able to continue with ARUSHI’s activities since I won’t get any monetary & emotional support now but I think god wants us to carry his work & so we keep getting donations in the form of ration & a good response to stalls we have of the products made by our senior citizens under their rehabilitation project.
With our strong determination and with total faith in God that he will guide us and pave the way for being of help to those who need help, we will continue our efforts and face all the challenges.
In anticipation of your cooperation for this noble cause.
Vaishali Macker  
(Managing Trustee)
In this country of 100 crores people we are right now looking for 250 such people who can contribute Rs. 400 a month or Rs. 4500 a year and adopt a senior citizen.
    Copyright © 2008, Arushi Virasat
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