This article has been sponsored by the Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation
Having grown under the shade of her father’s philanthropic activities, Prasanna Bhandari (Born 1934) developed a sense of social service ever since she was a child.
Every visit to the refugee camps in Kolkata just after the partition in 1947 exposed her to sadness and the desperate need for change. It gave her life a purpose — to love and nourish those in need.
Today, at 84 years of age and after more than 55 years of work, she continues her efforts to do good as the convenor of the Karni Nagar Vikas Samiti, Kota (SKNVS), Rajasthan.
She has dedicated her entire life to helping impoverished, abandoned and distressed children, women, and the elderly. Her cause mostly saw her dealing with victims of domestic violence or desertion.
Her exemplary work over the years has been honoured by the Jamnalal Bajaj Award for Development & Welfare of Women And Children in 2018.
Under the aegis of SKNVS, she started several centres for focused rehabilitation – like old age homes, physiotherapy clinics, children’s homes, primary schools, family counselling centres, etc. – to further various development activities.
“Years ago, I started a children’s home with 10 to 20 children. Slowly with time, it grew larger – housing almost 450 children. This prompted us to start a primary school and a special children’s home for destitute children.
This home is for children between the ages of 5 to 18 years, who do not have parents or any other relations at all, or have a single parent unable to take care of them,” said Prasanna to the Better India.
Balgriha (home for boys), Balikagriha (home for girls) and Shishugriha (home for infants) are three of the many initiatives taken up by SKNVS, for aiding holistic development.
“We had encountered an incident when an abandoned infant was left to our care. That triggered the need for an infant house for these children. Today, a total of 927 children have already found new homes through adoption, while seven more are waiting and are still with me,” she added.
For the women, she believes providing basic help is not enough, and that they can only truly be empowered through counselling, education and skill training.
The family counselling centre opened its doors to address this, and has resolved issues in as many as 3500 cases and has successfully restored balanced family lives.
However, one of the sessions revealed yet another issue ailing society- – its outlook towards old age. During a case, a couple mentioned they were willing to get back together and maintain a family, only if the elderly parents moved out.
The situation of the elderly saddened Prasanna and inspired her to open the nursing home. Today, it houses almost 30 residents, both senior men, and women. The objective was to provide them with a space to build a life of dignity and love, not abandonment and scorn.
With a guiding principle of spreading compassion towards all, Prasanna, even at 84, continues to look after all the centres, leading them to a better future.
“I am quite hopeful that my legacy will carry on even after me. All I tell my children is that it is not enough to say, ‘I have made it’, you should think about how you can help someone make it as well. And if you can’t do that, then at least wipe the tears of one other person. That is what which will keep it going,” concludes Prasanna Bhandari.
Find more details about the Jamnalal Bajaj Awards here.