Worn Doorstep team member Shanti recently returned from a trip to her homeland of Sri Lanka. She shared her experiences and described home care in Sri Lanka.

In Sri Lanka, senior members of the family go to live with their children in the last years of their lives. They receive their home care at home. But what happens if they have no family?

For the last ten years The Worn Doorstep has supported a charity called HelpAge.ca in Ottawa. We sponsor two Grans through this fine group (www.helpagecanada.ca). One of our Grans, Malani, is a single woman and has no relatives. She is now elderly and in need of home care as she suffers from high blood pressure and diabetes. Milani receives her home care at The Wimala Elders Home in Payagala, near Columbo, Sri Lanka, where she resides. The Home is on a large, tree-covered property. Our Shanthi (left) was kind enough to take time out of her vacation to visit Milani there in June. Shanthi described the surroundings.

The entrance to the Home contains a table and chairs and a fish tank. There is a sitting room where the Grans can watch TV. The main room of the house is a dormitory with cots lined up along the walls. Each Gran has a chest of drawers next to the bed to hold their belongings. There are several smaller dorm rooms and toilet rooms and showers. The dining room is in a separate building which is still close by. There is a long table in the middle of the room. There is a covered veranda where the Grans can sit and enjoy the air and outdoors. In the backyard there are three friendly dogs, some goats and rabbits which are cared for by the Grans. They also tend to the beautiful garden which is full of coconut trees and singing birds. The younger Grans help the less mobile Grans with dressing and chores. They do laundry together and hang their things on the lines in the back yard, although there are two local young ladies who have been hired to help with the chores.

Another important part of the Grans’ life is the small Buddhist Temple on the property. The Grans ensure that the Temple is kept clean and full of flowers. They also prepare for the daily prayer service. An offering is made daily to the Buddha and a procession of Grans bring the food tray, the flowers and candles to the Temple. There they hold their prayer service.

It is a tradition that members of the town of Payagala community care for their elders, and townsfolk take turns cooking and delivering the meals to the Home. Every 30 days there is a list in the kitchen of who in town has signed up to do the cooking. Vegetables, fish and cooked rice are served at every meal. Because the Home is close to the coast of the Indian Ocean, fish is plentiful. Meat is not served too often as it is expensive. All the food is placed on the long table in the dining room and the Grans pick up what they wish. They then go and eat wherever they wish – in the dining room, on the verandah, or in the back yard. Grans who are immobile have their meals delivered on trays to their bedsides or wheelchairs. Desserts include banana, mango, pineapple, yogurt or Sago pudding, a delicious Sri Lankan sweet.

The Wimala Elders Home is very much a community. The Grans provide emotional and loving support to one another in the last years of their lives in a home-like environment. We at The Worn Doorstep are so pleased to be able to sponsor Milani, and make her life a bit easier, and we are so blessed that Shanthi was able to go to the Home and visit in person.