TBI Blogs: Humjoli: A Real Life Social Network for Senior Citizens in Noida

Silver Talkies is an online magazine, events and networking platform for Indians over 60.

Humjoli, a senior citizens group in Noida, provides a support system for its members, many of whom live alone or away from their children.

Every month, at a park in Sector 21, Noida, Uttar Pradesh, a merry group of senior citizens meet to talk, socialise and have fun. Called Humjoli (meaning ‘friend’ in Hindi), the group, with 105 members at the moment, works as an informal support group for senior citizens living in the area. Meena Vohra, a ceramic artist and one of the founders of the group, is in her late sixties and is an example of growing younger over the years. She, along with few other friends, felt there was a need for a group like this as many senior citizens lived alone or away from their children, who stay overseas or in other cities. Mrs Vohra and her friends Priya, Kanta, Veena, Deepak and Indu felt there was a need for community support and Humjoli was born.

Members of the group stay connected on Whatsapp and try to help each other out in times of need. They meet on the second Wednesday of every month.

Humjoli members share a laugh

Humjoli members share a laugh

Though their meeting point is Shivaji Park at Jalvayu Vihar, Noida, people from other areas are welcome to join them. They have tied up with a doctor and a nurse, both a couple who reside in the area, and are available 24/7. When required, senior members can avail of their services, instead of having to commute to a hospital for minor ailments. The group also takes care of getting bill payments done for members who are not mobile or are unable to do it themselves.

Interestingly, much of the legwork involved in all these activities is done by active members of the group, themselves senior citizens.

An artwork collage done by Humjoli members. Some picked up the brush for the first time

An artwork collage done by the members. Some picked up the brush for the very first time

“There is no money involved,” says Mrs Vohra, adding that this is an initiative that is meant to keep the community spirit alive.

Discussions at their monthly meetings at the park range from environment to health. “We are discussing the water crisis these days,” Mrs Vohra adds, referring to the severe water shortage and drought that hit Maharashtra and other parts of India in the summer of 2016.

They also play games and celebrate festivals with great gusto. In fact, they celebrated Baisakhi in February and some of the members even performed a traditional dance! “There are people who have nobody to talk to and for them, these are wonderful opportunities,” Mrs Vohra points out.

The Whatsapp group helps members stay connected and abreast of happenings in each others’ lives: “If anybody has to go to the hospital, someone is there to accompany them. Help is available for everyone.”

In the spirit of giving back, the members are planning to adopt 15 underprivileged girls, who will be taught various skills by the senior members of Humjoli.

Members of Humjoli celebrate Baisakhi

Members of Humjoli celebrate Baisakhi

What the group really adds to the lives of its senior members is an instant social connect and cheer. Mrs Vohra mentions a wheelchair-bound member, who has to carry her oxygen tank everywhere. “Earlier she wasn’t keen on coming but I convinced her. She came and said she hadn’t laughed like that in a long time. Today, she is a regular visitor.”

Members also include cancer survivors who are a source of inspiration to everyone in the group. “There is an 80-year-old gentleman who lives alone and does all his work himself, including cooking. Such people show how active one can be even at a later age and are very inspiring,” says Mrs Vohra.

Humjoli’s monthly meetings also see talks by experts to educate and inform the members about various subjects. Recently, a diagnostic centre spoke about the importance and need for preventive measures in health.

It is also a platform for all members to exhibit their innate talents like singing, dancing, playing a musical instrument or reciting their own works of poetry.

Members of Humjoli make and distribute Thandai

Members make and distribute Thandai

“For example, one of the members is a retired Air Force pilot who loves to sing old songs from the 70s and keep us entertained,” Mrs Vohra says. They have also recently conducted a Swachh Bharat and a Daan Utsav Initiative, which senior members participated in with great enthusiasm. What matters the most however, is the support the members find in each other, and the happiness they derive from the social connect the group brings.

If you live in Noida or any nearby area and would like to join the group or enroll a loved one, do contact Mrs Vohra on 9899672403.

The group meets at:
Shivaji Park, Sector 21, Jalvayu Vihar
Noida, U.P. The park is located behind the Airforce canteen.

Do you know an inspiring senior citizen or a group of elders doing commendable work that you want to tell us about? Write to [email protected] to let us know.

All photographs courtesy of Silver Talkies

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