How it all started

Dilruba Kabir is the chairperson and trustee of the Monowara Islam-Tajul Islam Trust. The Shailan Probeen Nibash has been established on a one bigha plot of land at the initiative of this trust and the efforts of Dilruba Kabir.

Dilruba Kabir described how it all stated. She said, "Fifteen years ago when I left my children in the United State and was returning home, something struck my mind. I thought, our children will not return to the country, so what will happen to us?"

And she got the answer in the US. She said, "We had been in Boston. One morning I visited an old age home nearby. I picked up a prospectus of the home as I was leaving and the idea of setting up such a home of the elderly came to my mind then. When I returned to the country, I shared my thoughts with several people."

The government enacted a law in 2013 for punitive action against those not taking care of their parents. Such action is certainly necessary, but what about those who do not have the means? How can they take care of their parents?

Many people showed interest in Dilruba's plans. After that she began visiting old age homes whenever she went abroad, trying to understand how these establishments ran.

Gradually a thought began forming in her mind. "I began realising that building such a home for the middle class would be hugely expensive. That's when my husband said, you have been nurturing this idea of an old age home for so long now, why don't you set it up on the land we have in Dhamrai?

We started off with plans for a home on a small scale. Friends and well-wishers were very encouraging. Several individuals and a couple of corporate establishments came forward with funds too."

Construction began. From eminent persons of the village Shailan to the common people, everyone had a contribution. In fact, after the coronavirus outbreak, they were the ones who supervised the construction work. If the local people hadn't come forward with their support, it would have been impossible to finish this project, she said,

Waiting for residents

It has been over a month since the Shailan Probeen Nibash was inaugurated, but the response has not been quite as much as expected. Dilruba Kabir said, "There are not too many residents at the home right now. Actually there are several challenges in the way, including social norms. The government enacted a law in 2013 for punitive action against those not taking care of their parents. Such action is certainly necessary, but what about those who do not have the means? How can they take care of their parents? We want to give these elderly people a home in their sunset years."

She hopes that the home will soon be filled with residents.

Why is this home restricted to lower income people? Dilruba Kabir replies, "It is true that the elderly among the upper class and the upper middle class are lonely, but at least they do not have to worry about food, clothes, healthcare. But there is hardly any medical care for the lower economic strata. That is why we finally decided to target the lower economic strata for our home."

Shailan Nibash hardly seemed a home for the lesser advantaged people. Generally speaking, old age homes conjure up images of a spartan and restricted life. This certainly was not the case of Shailan Nibash. The residents here said that they spent their days here in a very family-like environment. There were facilities for recreation and also activities to keep them busy. The families of the residents can visit at any time. And the residents can also go home on visits accompanied their family members.

Many people in their old age are neglected and deprived of care, particularly among the lower income groups. Many do not have any proper place to stay. But a visit to Probeen Nibash showed that this could certainly be a very special place to live.

To be a Shailan resident

Shailan Probeen Nibash can accommodate 40 men and 40 women. People from anywhere in the country can come to live here. To be a resident of this home, one must be round 60 or above and from the lower income group. People 60 and above who are able to function on their own, that is make their own beds, wash their own clothes, etc, can apply to stay here. People from relatively better off families can stay here too, if their relatives donate funds equivalent to the annual expense of another resident. But all residents will be provided with exactly the same facilities.

Alongside food and shelter, the residents of Probeen Nibash are provided medical treatment with the help of Gonoshasthaya Kendra. There is an ECG machine and other essential medical equipment for health checkups at the home. There is also a physiotherapy room and equipment.


Email: [email protected]

Mobile phone: 01771027253

* This report, originally published in the Print and online editions of Prothom Alo, has been rewritten for English edition by Ayesha Kabir

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