Kerala’s Karusseril N Thankamma, a retired teacher, converted her 200-year-old ancestral home into a daycare for elderly women to find companionship.

It was after her husband’s death in 2004 that the 89-year-old first thought of putting together an initiative for elderly women like herself.

“We spend our days alone. All we wish for at this age is company, which most times is unavailable as our kids and grandkids are busy working or studying,” she says.

Her home, now called Manavodaya Pakalveedu, was officially registered as a charitable society and began operations in 2017.

“It was on amma’s 84th birthday that the daycare started functioning. Every year, her birthday is celebrated here with us and the 30 inmates,” says her son Sreekumar.

A set of five employees are working permanently in the daycare to ensure the wellness of inmates. They also make incense sticks, paper bags, and detergents.

These products are sold via a shop near the daycare and the income is fully used to keep the place running. The inmates help in packaging the products.

A day in the lives of the inmates starts at 8 am when they are picked up from their houses by the daycare’s vehicle.

They can engage in the packing of candles, incense sticks, or detergent as per their wish. Others can engage in conversations, reading, farming, or games.

They are taken back to their respective homes by 5 pm after an evening walk and coffee together.

“Spending time with these women brings me unmatched joy. Through employing women, I consider this initiative as a method of women empowerment too,” says Thankamma.