SHAIKH JAMALUDDIN | NT
Panaji: B N Melwani recreation centre for senior citizens at Mala evokes tremendous response from senior citizens from as far as Bicholim and Vasco besides Mala, Miramar, Dona Paula, Tonca and Taleigao within a short span of one year.
Late B N (B N Melwani) had a dream plan to start a centre for senior citizens but could not translate it into reality during his life time and left for his heavenly abode, but his sons too were very anxious to see the realization of their father’s dream. However with the help of his grandsons a recreation centre was opened in a beautiful Portuguese era house located in the heritage area of Mala-Fontainhas.
“The place, belonging to BN was lying idle for years together in Mala, so after getting all necessary permissions and permits we thought of fulfilling the desire of out late grandfather, so we opened this centre on January 26, 2019, the birth anniversary of their (Raja and Vijay’s) father” said grandson Raja.
Now, we stand tall with around 120 members hailing from different sections of society and with different traditions, culture, educational qualifications and different religions, he pointed out.
The main objective of the centre is to keep seniors active in health, body and mind and when seniors meet, a unique bonding of relationship and friendship is cultivated amongst them, said Raja. He further said, “They enter the centre as strangers and become extended family members bonding and meeting each other with happiness and joy,’’ he said. “Our aim behind creating the centre is to see the smile on the faces of our senior citizens” he said.
The house is cheerful, bright and well-ventilated which is open from 10 am to 7 pm from Monday to Saturday. Tea and biscuits are served in the morning as well as in the evening to visitors aged 60 years and above.
Once every month a social get-together is organised to celebrate birthdays of members. The oldest member is 90 years old and more than half the members are in the 60, 70 and 80 age groups. A recent birthday celebrations had all the senior citizens on their feet while most took to dancing, singing and even learning to play the ukulele with the courtesy from Energetic & Musical Kadense team from the city.
The centre is well equipped with WiFi, computer, TV, DVD player with Bluetooth speakers, mini-library with books and magazines, daily newspapers in English, Marathi and Konkani, drawing and colouring sheets for creative outlet and board games like carom, chess. CCTV cameras are also installed for security of senior citizens. A room is equipped with physiotherapy equipment for light ‘arms and legs’ exercise for the benefit of members.
A room is dedicated for medical examination, earmarked for medical camps and has devices such as electronic BP monitor, digital weighing machine and SPO2 devices. The other activities conducted at the centre are heritage walks, yoga classes, medical camps, movie screening, guest talks on diet and nutrition and various other topics relevant to senior citizens.
A retired chartered accountant couple, Saloni and Suri have dedicated their lives for helping the senior citizens at the centre. A bank employee, M Fernandes was happy to join the centre as it keeps her happy and active while Florence Batra –a businesswoman from Delhi joined the centre and experienced lot of difference in her diet, sleeping schedule and spiritual life.
Kalpana Deshpande a retired government servant felt relieved and heaved a sigh of relief after joining the centre as she was thinking that she would go unsound after retirement as there were no activities for her, while Vallabh Salvi, a next door neighbour of the centre after joining cultivated a lot of friends which keeps him busy.
The Melwani family contributes to the welfare of the centre which is free to the senior citizens.