Vikuonuo Sachu (standing) along with the senior citizens in Kohima Credit: EastMojo Image

Kohima: In a bid to spread love and joy amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the reigning queen of Miss Nagaland Vikuonuo Sachu met senior citizens at the Good Samaritan Senior Citizens Home in Kohima, the oldest surviving old age home in the state.

“We are all in such a crisis where we all need the support of each other. It maybe financially, mentally and physically,” the 19 year old beauty queen told EastMojo during the visit. Sachu, under the ‘Beauty with a purpose’ project had been selling locally produced vegetables in the past two consecutive Saturdays to help local farmers and also raised funds for those in need.

From the money she raised by selling vegetables, she contributed basic essential requirements to the senior citizens during her visit. As she visited the lone old age home in Kohima and interacted with the senior citizens, she said: “My purpose of visiting the old age is not just about being able to contribute to them but to also understand the areas where we are lacking to understand them, to provide in things that matters and things that should come to our concern”.

The beauty queen said that during this time of the crisis, people must give thought for senior citizens as they undergo various difficulties due to old age and due to financial problems. “It is time for us to contribute. They are also our responsibility,” she said.

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Vikuonuo sold locally produced vegetables to help farmers and raise funds for those in need

Under the Beauty and Aesthetic Society of Nagaland (BASN), Sachu has also been advocating for the cause of livelihood generation and education. “I chose to help the local farmers and vendors to help them sell their harvest in the right time. Also, I am extending support to the underprivileged children to get access to modern technology inorder for them to access modern education,” she told EastMojo.

In an interaction, Neithonuo Liegise, the managing director of Good Samaritan Senior Citizens Home Kohima thanked Sachu for the meaningful visit to the Old age home. She also opened up that it is sometimes disheartening when families of the elderly persons do not pay a visit.

Currently with 24 elderly persons aged between 60-93 years, Liegise recalled how the old age home was established 15 years ago in 2005 under the aegis of the Good Samaritan Women Society, an NGO. Earlier called as the Old age home, it is now renamed as the Good Samaritan senior citizens home, located near the new high court in Meriema, Kohima.

The Good Samaritan Senior citizens home is recognized by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment through which it receives grant-in-aid for the maintenance of the senior citizens. Liegise informed that 20% of the funding is contributed by the Good Samaritan Women Society.

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Vikuonuo Sachu and Neithonuo Liegise along with the senior citizens

When the reigning queen of Nagaland asked Liegise on how the general public can towards these senior citizens, Liegise said that although it receives little funding from the government and the NGO, there are times when it needs more support—especially when the elderly persons fall in bad health.

She recounted how some senior citizens who passed away battled cancer and stroke at old age, requiring surgery and other treatments. As health cannot be predicted, she said that there are times when it runs out of fund to provide healthcare, as these costs are also not calculated in the guidelines of the ministry’s funding.

She said that the public can opt to donate for the healthcare or sponsor a senior citizen. She also suggested that a family can adopt a senior citizen if it wishes to help. According to the capacity that the family can contribute towards healthcare, she said that the amount can be deposited in the account of the senior citizen which can utilized when the person falls sick and require treatment.

Expressing her gratitude to the KOHIMAS hospital at Nagabazar in Kohima, Liegise revealed that the private hospital has been extending its support whenever the senior citizens require treatment at the hospital. “There are times I become very helpless. But the KOHIMAS hospital has been so helpful. They do not charge for the bed. The surgery charges are also minimum and they even give us medicines on credit,” she said.

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Senior citizens praying for Vikuonuo Sachu

Building an elderly-friendly infrastructure:

Liegise shared that although the senior citizens make no complaints, it is observed that the infrastructure of the present Senior Citizens home is not fully elderly friendly for which renovations need to be made accordingly. She also shared about the plans to replace the existing staircases by building ramps, need for a boring well, construction of toilets attached to the rooms. Expressing that she is also learning new things about maintaining an old age home, she shared that more infrastructural developments are needed to be made. She added that this time, the grant in aid is also not released till now, which added to the difficulty.

But despite financial crisis, Liegise said that it plans to expand its old age home branches to the rural parts of Nagaland. An extension branch of the “Senior Citizens Home” will be inaugurated at Ngwalwa under Peren district on October 1. Another branch of the senior Citizens Home is also expected to be operational in Tuensang district by 2021. She said that even if the government starts or not, people must begin the initiative, then the government eventually joins in to support such initiatives.

For her, “Helping people is serving god”. Besides helping the senior citizens, she is also currently sponsoring for the education of three students. Out of two students she previously sponsored, she said that one of them have joined the Senior Citizens Home as a staff and is now assisting her.

The reigning Miss Nagaland interacting with a senior citizen

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Meanwhile during the visit, Sachu emotionally connected and interacted with three senior citizens. She further expressed that besides being the reigning Miss Nagaland, as a citizen it is equally important to show love and affection for the senior citizens.

She humbly said that as a teenager, ignorant of the ground realities that the elderly person faces, her first visit to an old age home has helped her realize the need to work and advocate for the old age community. In unison, the elderly persons at the Good Samaritan Senior Citizens Home also prayed for Sachu and wished her well in her mission.

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