(16 Mar '04)
Wednesday, 3 March 2004 -Mumbai, Maharashtra
Amrita Nidhi, Amma’s pension programme for widows and destitute women, grew dramatically during Amma’s 2004 India Tour, expanding from three to 11 states. In each city Amma gave darshan, She and various dignitaries personally distributed pension checks to several representative beneficiaries. During Amma’s programme in Prabhadevi, Mumbai, many were enrolled into the monthly pension scheme.
Smt. Lakshmi Nayar, 60, has been a widow for 20 years. She never had any children and has no living relatives. “I live in one of the suburbs of Bombay,” she says. “I work there doing small household chores like washing and cooking for a family. I sleep in their kitchen. I cannot work long hours, so the people I work for pay only by giving me a roof and food. I have no income of my own. Through Amma’s pension scheme, I now have at least some money of my own to spend on clothes or puja .
Beneficiary Mara Baivatkarra could not come herself because she could not leave her husband alone. So her oldest daughter, 20, came to receive it in her behalf. “My father has been paralysed for the last 10 years due to a stroke and has not been able to provide for the family,” she says. “My mother has to care for him all the time, and she is a little sick herself, so she could not come. I was very excited about meeting Amma. It feels great. Amma is like a god; it makes me feel good within.”
T Parvati (35) is a widow. Her husband died from alcohol-related illness. “He used to spend his wages on drinking and that made life very difficult,” she says. “I have two daughters of 13 and eight years old. I hope I can use some of Amma’s money to pay for their school fees. I am really grateful to Amma. She is so loving. And the darshan made me feel peaceful. If Amma comes again to Mumbai next year, I will surely come and see her again!”
Arpak Tankar 47, has been a widow since her husband died of cancer 10 years ago. “I can work only little because I have to take care of my two daughters,” she says. “It is very difficult to earn enough money to support them. My greatest worry is if I can find them a suitable husband because we are so poor. I hope this money will help.”