Plans for cultural resthome for Indians

Indian community is showing strong interest for a cultural care centre for elderly in Auckland.

Many Indian business owners, community leaders and politicians attended a recent meeting to discuss plans for a resthome for South Asians. There are an estimated 100,000 south Asians in New Zealand, of which, 5295 are of 65 years of age or older. And the idea of a resthome for this demographic is catching momentum.

“It’s particularly for those who need some kind of residential care,” says Labour MP Rajen Prasad who supports to concept.

“It’s appropriate for who they are, their age, their culture. I think in a modern, complex society like Auckland where families are busy, (if) they are going to be close to the elderly people, and (if) elderly people want to be close to the activities with other elderly people, then I think these kinds of centres become important, and I hope that before too long, that will be possible.”

Others present echoed the feeling. “We have done a lot of research,” says Vinod Kumar, President of Hindu Council of New Zealand. “We need that (centre) desperately. Who does that, how we do it, doesn’t matter.”

Says Wensceleaus Anthony, chair of India New Zealand Business Council, “Lest we forget, because it is very important, (for) people of our community (that) are in the evening of their life, it is our duty to take care of their needs.”

The initial thinking seems to make the facility open to all ethnic groups. “It will benefit not one particular ethnic community, but all ethnic communities in Auckland,” says Amail Habib, acting chair of Auckland Council’s Ethnic Peoples Advisory Panel.

Responding to The Global Indian magazine’s enquiry, the project co-ordinator for the concept, Vikas Yadav, says that the rest home is specifically aiming at South Asians i.e. people from India, Pakistan, SriLanka, Bangladesh, Nepal etc.

Sharing his experience, Dr Prakash Grover says, “We are a second generation of Indian community here. Soon we will be old and I don’t think our sons or daughters will be able to (attend) to our needs in the way it would have been done in India.

“In India, the social and financial structure, the type of life allows a person to be nurtured by the society at large. Here, things are quite different. We might be an ‘unhandlable’ pressure for our children.

“But if I imagine myself going to a conventional old age home, it might be a challenge – the type of food, the type of gear, the type of culture – the whole dynamics of the place may not suit my emotional and cultural needs.

“So in that regard, the idea of (cultural old-age home) is good. I can imagine myself, at 80 years old, going to that old-age home, with mutter-paneer in my plate (and) watching NDTV (which is) unimaginable at this stage.”

The Auckland meeting was convened by Bhartiya Samaj Charitable Trust and led by Jeet Suchdev. The project is estimated to cost $3 million and likely to host 43 elderly people initially. It is estimated that the project may receive a Ministry of Health funding of $830 per week per resident.

The meeting formed a core working committee to undertake a feasibility study. The committee will include: Hemant Prashar, Ilango Krishnamurthy, Kritika Satija, Dr. Mohammed Rashid, Dr. Nitin Raj Sheth, Dr. Prakash Grover, Pushparajan, Sandeep Agarwal, Santanu Roy, Sharmista Roy, Shefali Mehta, Shivani Arora, Surjeet Singh, Vinod Kumar, Wensceleaus Anthony and Yusuf Khan

Any person who would like to volunteer for this project and be a part of this cause, may contact Mr.Jeet Suchdev on 021-222-1020 or 09 443 0579.

RESEARCH PAPER (PDF FILE): Families, Ageing and Migration: Indian Communities in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch


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