Where do poor, elderly folks go when their own children can’t take care of them? If they have no other means, most often they end up on the streets and make a living by begging and sleeping under trees or benches. If you have wondered if there are places that would take in street people, there are. The Shelter4Homeless is one such place where after a processing period, an elderly street person above the age of 65 is able to live in a safer environment where they are looked after well.The shelter is a home for elderly street people and they all have their stories. If you were to spend some time with them, which they always enjoy, they would narrate these stories to you as they did to us.
The home is located at Piliyandala. Presently there are 14 such residents at the home. Some who were picked from the wayside and some who are not street people but are elderly and have no one to look after them
We got to speak to some of the residents recenly, and one uncle told us that he worked in the temple all his life and when he was too old to work and had to retire, he was placed under the kindly care of the staff of the home.
You would think then, the home would be brimming with street people. On the contrary, there are only a few who remain. It is very rare that a street person who is used to living on the streets, choose this kind of life. Most of them leave the security of the home to return to their life of begging and living on the street and sometimes they return and sometimes they don't.
“Mother Theresa once said that If you can’t feed 100 people, start with feeding one." That’s the motto Sanath Munasinghe, the founder and director of the home believes in. In less than one year he has served over 4000 meals and offered accommodation to 24 homeless elders from around the country. It does not deter him that the residents of the home return to the street because all those who leave are aware that they have a warm bed waiting for them and a place called home that would welcome them.
The Shelter4Homeless building is owned by the Catholic Church. It was abandoned for many years but Sanath Munasinghe has renovated it so that it would be a comfortable abode for the underprivileged.
If you would like to donate, you can donate by pledging to provide meals for the residents on a daily basis and the care givers of the home. Sponsorship for an elderly person per day is Rs. 375. In addition to this there are other expenses such as employee salaries, utilty bills, medical expenses, transport expenses to hospitals etc, groceries, which can also be supported on a monthly basis.
For more information visit their website www.shelter4homeless.
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