Ex-councillor turns saviour for elderly residents amid Covid-19 lockdown
A former Congress councillor has become the guardian angel for 27 residents of an old age home in Jodhpur who were left unaided during the lockdown necessitated by the Covid-19 outbreak
When she learnt that the home was left without staff, Pratibha Gehlot shifted to the old age home and is cooking, washing, taking care of the physical and mental health of the elderly residents.
“I came to know the home was facing a shortage of staff and so I decided that I should chip in,” says Gehlot, 44. Her husband, Ratan, is secretary of the old age home.
Along with her husband and two children, Pratibha shifted in on March 22 and will remain till the end of the lockdown when things get back to normal.
She has been taking care of the residents, cooking for them, washing their clothes, mending clothes, playing games with them, chatting with them and providing them solace in these trying times.
The residents, all above 70 years, were left unaided after their cook and some other staff went to their villages ahead of the lockdown announced on March 22.
The shelter, located in Mahamandir area of Jodhpur, is run by the JodhanaJan Kalyan Sewa Samiti. The management tried to make alternative arrangements and contacted some cooks but they refused to come amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Gehlot says the home has 6-7 staff including a cook, a nursing staff, and a couple of helpers. However, before the lockdown, four of them went home while a helper couple and a caretaker stayed behind.
“My husband and I have been associated with the home since many years and I know all the residents. They are like my family and so I decided to help them,” she said.
She follows the schedule of the home and provides meals at the fixed time. She begins her day at 5 am as tea is served at 5.30 am.
After tea, preparations for breakfast begin. Breakfast is served at around 7.30 after which Gehlot begins preparing for lunch which is served at 11 am. The residents are served some fruits and then tea and biscuits are served at 3.30 pm. Then preparations begin for dinner which is at 6 pm and milk is served at 9 pm, says Gehlot.
Mohanlal Sharma, 71, is all praise for Gehlot. “She looks after us well. She makes different dishes such as dal, bati, choorma, khaman, dhokla and other delicacies. She spends time with us and is managing very well.”
Gehlot and the lady helper do the cooking and washing of utensils. Clothes are washed in washing machines in the afternoon. The helper couple clean the premises and also help with patients who are paralysed or cannot bathe themselves or eat by themselves.
Gehlot says she keeps the residents engaged by playing games with them, singing songs, or chatting with them. The home also has a big garden where the residents can walk or sit in the evenings when they also perform aarti.
Each resident has an AC room with a TV but they prefer being in each other’s company.
“They love to talk. There are times when they feel depressed or anxious but I try to talk to them and cheer them up. We keep them engaged in different activities to keep them busy.
Gehlot says a Sikh lady who claims she is 101 years old came to Rajasthan from Lahore during the partition in 1947. “When I tell her that we are in lockdown and we can’t go out, she thinks its partition and starts recalling her experiences.”
Gehlot says she feels that she is serving her family. “I consider this my good fortune that God has given me this opportunity to serve. The blessings of these people are keeps me motivated,” she says.