Ladakh has experienced good economic growth in the past two decades. However with modernization comes also a change in lifestyles and attitudes of the people of Ladakh. In the past, traditionally most of us live in extended families with a close knit relationship between the young and the old. This ensures peace of mind and security for the elderly who feel safe and looked after by the younger members of the family. Sadly this idyllic family situation is slowly changing as the pressures of modern lifestyles forces the younger population to migrate from the villages to Leh in search of better employment opportunities to fend for themselves. They are forced to leave their elderly relatives to live alone back in the villages.
At this age, the elderly are at their most vulnerable and often need medical care most. They need to be looked after, more so especially in Ladakh where the climatic conditions are harsh and they cannot afford to be left homeless or isolated. With this in mind, Venerable Sanghasena set out to build a shelter for the elderly in Ladakh. In July 1995, the Old Age Home was established with the guiding principles and objectives of providing the elderly, destitute, and handicapped members of Ladakhi society with a homely, peaceful, secure, healthy and spiritually uplifting environment.
At present the Mahabodhi Old Age Home provides comfortable accommodation for 32 elderly residents including a few mentally and physically handicapped adults. They are provided with all the necessary facilities, a clean dining hall, a special room for prayers, and comfortable rooms. The part of the building was destroyed in the 2010 flush floor thereafter the part of the building had to dismantled and reconstructed with the generous supporters of Hauser Group, Germany (esteemed travel company), a new building block especially designed to cater to the needs of the elderly was completed in 2012. The new building has constructed with passive solar house design to keep the residents warm and cozy in the cold winter weather and is designed to be wheelchair and disability friendly. The Home is located such that the residents are living near the school children and the well-equipped hospital.
It therefore gives the opportunity for the elderly to have frequent contact with children and the youths at Mahabodhi. This helps to make them feel involved and not isolated. There is a conscious effort to always include the elderly in all the programmes at Mahabodhi so that they feel a sense of involvement and purpose in their lives. We have now been able to also establish a modern Physiotherapy center with the kind help and generous support of Help Age India.
The Hostel for Visually impaired Children is yet another humanitarian project of MIMC. On 28th July 2006, Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam inaugurated the opening of the School and Hostel. Today there are 7 inmates staying at the Hostel. One of the students, Lobzang Chusphel was sent to Mumbai for a three and half months basic rehabilitation course for blind adults, conducted by the Department of Rehabilitation of the National Association for the Blind (NAB). NAB is one of the leading organizations working for the welfare of the blind in India. As a special case, NAB has planned an internship program for Lobsang in their workshop, which will give him real work experience and improve his ability to share knowledge with other blind adults in Ladakh. Another talented inmate of the Hostel, Miss Chuzin Angmo will soon pass her matriculation exam and MIMC is planning to send her to continue her further studies in one of the major cities in India.
Recently, through the generous sponsorship of Zukunftsstiftung Entwicklungshilfe e.v, from Germany, we have been able to build a new passive Solarized building that ensures warmer winters for the inmates. The children are given the same opportunities as their sighted peers, both in terms of their academic and spiritual education, nurtured to feel that they are part of the whole Mahabodhi family despite their handicap. Ven. Sanghasena's main aim is to prepare them to become fully independent and confident individuals so that they can take their rightful place in society. Hence there is always a conscious attempt to fully integrate the visually impaired children with other sighted students of Mahabodhi Residential School. This not only brings the children much closer together from an early age but it also makes them aware of each others' unique potentials and helps create a greater level of understanding for both parties.