To begin with, we would like to give a round of applause to Mourya Ila - a young filmmaker, who is also a valuable member of DOBARA. In 2020, Mourya and his friend Madhur made us our unforgettable Lockdown video "DOBARA is..." and this year, Mourya discreetly shot the Vanabhojanam and created this memorable video for us.
VANABHOJANAM roughly translated means a meal outdoors, surrounded by greenery…For the past 4 years in the month of November DOBARA has been spreading well-being by organizing an unforgettable event under the shade of trees snacking, chatting, bonding, engaging in fun activities followed by a delicious lunch, for an intergenerational group of people each looking out for the other, providing help, support and goodwill—where information interchange and learning just happen organically.
This year 2021 was different—in the sense that DOBARA looked for a brand new age-friendly venue in the old city to spread its reach far and wide to senior citizens from all over the city.
Ms. Ayesha Rubina - a friend of DOBARA, the Chair-person of Ayesha Foundation and a Municipal Corporator suggested we visit the National Park for People with Special Needs in MALAKPET, Hyderabad. Ayesh Rubina specializes in providing education for children with special needs.
GHMC and Ayesha Foundation jointly worked to design this park which was converted from wasteland to a space of serenity.
With a team of volunteers who lived in that area DOBARA visited this unique park on 26th October 2021. It was such a change from the many other parks used by DOBARA to spread well-being.
1) It was located on flat terrain with plenty of car-parking
2) The cars could drive right in to drop off the seniors
3) There was an amphitheater designed with ramp access
4) Senior friendly toilets within easy reach
5) Well equipped physiotherapy rooms
6) A sensory room for engaging people with disabilities
7) Very friendly courteous staff
8) Ease of access to chair rentals for senior citizens
DOBARA is so happy to share that the National Park for People With Special Needs is on our list of Senior Friendly Spaces!
Having assessed all these facilities TEAM DOBARA decided on a second visit on 9th of November to meet the staff and assess requirements. Saturday the 20th of November 2021 was confirmed for a VANABHOJANAM and TEAM DOBARA met the park officials on MONDAY the 15th November to finalize logistics.
The benefits of intergenerational interaction are just amazing and all DOBARA events focus on student involvement with senior citizens. TEAM DOBARA contacted the MESCO School in the MALAKPET area for volunteer support from its students. We got an immediate response, with a list of 25 students willing to participate.
Posters were made and sent out on WhatsApp, all arrangements were finalized, but the weather forecast was not at all conducive to senior citizen outings, so TEAM DOBARA took the decision to shift the date by a week.
So cancellations were posted—the new date was fixed as 27th November. On 25th we requested the MESCO students to come by for a rehearsal to understand their role and their positions in the park to receive, guide, assist and interact with seniors.
On 25th Nov the car routes for pick up and drop off were finalized- Names, phone numbers, Address, and google pins exchanged with drivers and seniors—Checklists were finalized, tasks assigned and all was set .
The 27th of November dawned sunny and clear. The students were ready early at their positions. The rental chairs and shamiana tent came a day early. Arrangements were made for serving tea, snacks, and a one dish meal.
Money was given to the park staff for procuring disposables, placing orders for rental equipment etc.
OSMANIA biscuit, milk tea and lemon tea
SUFIYANI BIRYANI made with fragrant Basmathi rice, SOYA BEAN pellets and vegetables
Dahi ki chutney
Sevain ka Muzafir for dessert
Last minute some seniors complained of toothache and inability to chew - a volunteer (Meher) quickly came to the rescue with delicious oatmeal Haleem.
The number of senior citizens who participated was 60, Mesco student volunteers 25, Drivers, park employees, students with disabilities etc added up to to approximately 120 people who enjoyed the 12kg Biryani cooked that day !
There were 6 people on wheel chairs each with their caregivers
There were seniors with walking sticks and walkers
We had 8 first timers, brand new members who joined the event having read about the event on the DOBARA website. This kind of participation is just so heartwarming.
Mr Gabriels son, AJAY, offered his car for transporting seniors – 4 cars were in use driven by our volunteer drivers picking up and dropping off elders who came from Trimulgherry, Bolarum, Sainikpuri etc.
The magic of Vanabhojanam was complete thanks to Rani Emmanuel, our star pianist who is blind, who played her music with such gusto for the audience – special requests were entertained! She is a DOBARA Wellbeing Ambassador who is always doing her bit by spreading wellbeing through her music.
Jaweria, an Inter first year student with special needs, celebrated her birthday and our volunteer Riyaz very thoughtfully ordered a cake with her name on it, which she cut and we packed it with her to take home and enjoy!
The Vanabhojanam began at 10am and was over with a clean sparkling park by 2AM, with the help of volunteers and MESCO student volunteers! It is a massive undertaking to organise a group activity like this, but it is also such a wonderful feeling when it is a success!
Each participant payed Rs.500 to cover expenses.
Total amount collected from Participants for this event = Rs.26500
Total amount spent by DOBARA on this event = Rs.29000
Kudos to all the volunteers for their sincere dedication and their prompt actions, be it with the food or goodies, the cake, the genuine health care advice, the car pool helpers, the flag bearers and the list goes on and on.Each volunteer seemed like a knight in shining armor. Could feel the love, empathy, compassion and sympathy each had for the other. - RANA IRFAN
Yummy haleem and Sufiyana Biryani. Ayesha's Lemon Tea was a treat during the event. Bright sunny day, cheerful participants, lovely food and an always loving, encouraging, inclusive spirit with contagious energy in our leader, Mateen Aunty. Thank you... it's a memorable day. - RIYAZ AHMED