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ASRA- home for abandoned parents.

india Updated: May 03, 2011 11:53 IST

Hindustan Times
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He is an example worth emulating. At a time when man doesn't think twice before killing another for meagre amounts of money, Col Ajay Vir draws out his pension from the bank to help the abandoned aged. "My children are both married and well-settled. I have only my mother to take care of. The pension I get is more than enough for both of us," he says.

Col Vir runs a home for aged, ASRA, at Delhi's Neb Sarai, where he earlier used to run his firm. "It's all providence. It's God's wish that I do this work. It is He who directed me," he says, politely refusing to take any words of appreciation.

"A couple of incidents happened that motivated my mind towards this direction," he says, and starts narrating the incidents. "I once saw an old couple at Hanuman Mandir in Connaught Place shivering with cold. I had gone there to distribute bananas, and when I offered them the fruit, the man politely asked me if I could give them a blanket," he says. "They seemed to be from good family. I promised them a blanket, but due to some pre-occupation I could go back the next day. And when I finally went after two days, the couple was nowhere to be seen. I asked many people, but no one had any clue about them," says Col (retd) Ajay Vir, guilt writ large on his face.

Being a busy man, (he ran his own interior designing unit) Col Vir soon got busy with his work. But God had something else in store for him. "Once while going to Ballabhgarh on official work, I saw an old lady sitting under a tree. She was blind and swatting flies away with her hands, she was eating something. I came back but couldn't get her out of mind. So much so that I went back after a couple of days with a view to do something for her. But I couldn't find her," he says.

These two incidents moved Col Vir so much that he decided to wind up his business and do something for the aged. He then converted his Neb Sarai office into a home for aged.

Spread over 110 gaz, the Home for Aged has five rooms on the ground floor and three halls on the first floor.
"I am not restricting the home only to senior citizens. Anyone who is abandoned and needy can come to this home. In a mixed group the inmates can help each other," he says.

At present, there are six women at the home. The youngest occupant is 45-year-old Pushpa, while the oldest is 68-year-old Enid Cory. Pushpa has no family while both of Enid's children are settled abroad, both are out of jobs, and hence no means to sustain themselves. "I keep reading newspaper reports about parents being thrown from homes by their children. The other day I read that there are 51 million aged abandoned people. All these news items are very disturbing. I feel if I can take care of even 500, I would have lived my life worthwhile," he says. And 500 is the number Col Vir aspire for in one year. But then, he doesn't just want these people to be dependent on him. "What does an old person need? Food, shelter and respect…And respect will come only when they are gainfully employed," he says.

"I want these people to be self-dependent. Once the number increases, my pension will fall short. Plus, they also need to have some occupation…I am working in this direction…Let's hope something materializes soon," he says.

A resident of Sector 37, Col Vir retired from active service in 1988 (he belonged to Dogra regiment), just so because "my parents and children needed me". I have faced enough problems in my life, but all these problems made me strong, he says. He firmly believes that humanity is the biggest religion.