A Much Needed Respite
At a time when children are forgetting their responsibilities to their elderly parents, denying them basic necessities such as food and shelter, Amma’s compassion has come as a welcome and much needed respite in the form of a monthly pension scheme for impoverished women. Later it was extented to impoverished men and disabled also.
Nation-wide, 50,000 qualified people are now receiving Amritanidhi pensions. The beneficiaries are either widowed, married to sick or disabled men, or those who have to survive on the small amount they receive from the occasional work they are able to find.
While government pensions generally stop when the recipient’s children turn eighteen years old, MAM’s pensions are given for life
“So many needy women do not qualify for government pensions”
In the first three months project, the Amritanidhi co-ordinator, Sarada, processed 10,000 applications. She was assisted by volunteers who helped her process hundreds of letters everyday. Sarada and her team spent more than one year going through application forms and meeting the applicants.
Sarada says, “Amma is the very embodiment of compassion. She knows that most families here rely only on the sea and the coconut trees for their livelihood. Fishing is very hard for the men folk, they often become disabled or sick due to the hard life. Shore fishing is seasonal. Every year there are famines. The families cannot really make a living. I’ve seen the plight of people while doing this job. The men have fallen from coconut trees, have damaged hips or have disc problems, or they have TB or cancer. It’s very pitiable. Sometimes, the women bring their sick husband’s picture when they apply. Often they can’t write and so we help them. We manually prepare lists of all the applicants in every district of Kerala. There are thousands of applicants. Our branch ashrams also send them to us. The problem is that so many women do not qualify for government pensions. Government schemes are limited to specific occupations like agriculture, and coir work or they are only for handicapped people. Our scheme fulfils an important need.”