Earlier this month, the United Nations sponsored a worldwide observance of the International Day of Older Persons. This year’s theme was: “the future we want: what older persons are saying,” which highlighted international efforts to place aging issues at the top of the international development agenda. [See United Nations International Day of Older Persons 2013, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.]
One Bangalore newspaper commemorated the day with an inspiring article about an extraordinary group of seniors whose main concern for the future is not their own welfare, but the legacy they leave for the rising generations – the children of today. [See Safeguarding Childhood, by A. Sharadhaa, The New Indian Express, 01.Oct.2013.] The article chronicles the work of a nonprofit called Senior Citizens, that provides books, school supplies, nutritious meals, transportation, and some scholarships to hundreds of needy children in Bangalore.
The nonprofit’s current president, retired Indian Army Col. HMS Murthy, is the father of Sheela Murthy, founder and president of the Murthy Law Firm. Col. Murthy explained to the New Indian Express how his nonprofit started:
“Four retired elders noticed a group of school children walking barefoot. They offered them a pair of slippers to each. That was beginning. They learnt that the children were studying in Sri Chennakeshava Swamy Higher Primary School. And they were shocked to see the state of affairs at the school as it had no drinking water and other basic facilities. That’s when they planned to adopt the schools and overlook the day-to-day affairs.”
Today, the Senior Citizens nonprofit has established partnerships with medical providers so that students at eight schools in Bangalore now receive free medical checkups each year, as well as dental and eye care.
In his conversation with the New Indian Express, Col. Murthy noted with pride that his daughter, Sheela Murthy, has been involved with the schools project since 2006: together with her husband, Vasant Nayak, their family foundation – the MurthyNAYAK Foundation (MNF) – has made substantial financial contributions each year, as part of a ten-year commitment. Both have taken a deep personal interest in the project: on their trips home to India, they often visit the Chennakeshava School to see firsthand the abundant social returns of their investment in human capital.
Like Col. Murthy, Sheela and Vasant are grateful for the opportunities they have had in life, and feel compelled to pay it forward by sharing their good fortune with others in need. The motto of the MurthyNAYAK Foundation, says it all: Baltimore to Bangalore, Each Life Matters!
Further information on the Chennakeshava School project is available online.
Copyright © 2013, SHEELA MURTHY. All Rights Reserved