A sweet sanctuary for the elderly
One man dreams of creating a hospitable, healthy living space for the elderly of Malaysia.
THE Ti-Ratana Welfare Society plans to build a home in Salak South Baru, Kuala Lumpur, to provide free elderly care for 500 senior citizens.
The Ti-Ratana Seniors’ Sanctuary will be housed in a five-storey building costing about RM12mil that will, hopefully, be completed within a year, says the society’s founder and advisor, the Venerable Datuk K. Sri Dhammaratana, who heads the Buddhist Maha Vihara temple in KL.
To date, the building fund stands at RM4mil and there are plans to raise more money to ensure that the project can be completed without any hitches.
However, details have not been worked out yet. Once they are, Dhammaratana, 69, hopes the public will donate generously towards this good cause.
“The sanctuary will provide free food, lodging and medical care for eligible seniors (those who are poor and have no immediate family).
“They do not have to pay anything,” he stresses. “Their welfare will be fully taken care of.”
He is confident that the funds will come in, especially with the help of the Ti-Ratana “Wonder Women”, a team of 40 women (ranging in age from late 20s to early 50s) who work on the society’s community projects.
The building will have two levels for male residents and two for females. Interiors will be tailored to the needs of the elderly – for instance, corridors will be extra wide to accommodate wheelchairs, and light switches will be placed lower for easier access.
There will also be a centre offering free basic medical check-ups and medication. Specialist doctors will make regular scheduled visits to provide free medical consultation and treatment, and in the offing is an ambulance service.
There are also plans to house the terminally ill so that they can have “a peaceful stay” in the remaining time they have.
Presently, Ti-Ratana provides accommodation for 180 senior citizens and 200 orphans. The seniors have already been moved out to bunk in temporarily with the orphans after the four houses they were living in were demolished to make way for the project.
The new building was envisaged in view of the growing ageing population as well as to improve the standard of care for the aged. Moreover, those four old houses had been infested with termites.
The new premises will be built on a 2,000sq m site opposite the Ti-Ratana orphanage.
Besides providing an improved living space for the elders, Dhammaratana explains that there are plans “to ensure that the residents have a holistic, healthy and balanced lifestyle with activities such as qi gong and yoga introduced to improve physical health”.
Initiatives are also being planned to look after the mental wellbeing of the seniors and ensure their quality of life on a day-to-day basis.
This project, Dhammaratana says, is a milestone for the society, which will mark its 20th anniversary on Nov 18.
While it has been caring for orphans since the 1990s, it was only in 2005 that the society started its elderly care programme. Currently, Ti-Ratana spends RM180,000 a month on the orphans and senior citizens under its care, says Dhammaratana.
Seniors’ Sanctuary is one of three dream projects that Dhammaratana is hoping will be realised. The other two are the Ti-Ratana Sanctuary (aka the Bentong village project, Pahang) and the Ti-Ratana vocational institute in Bangi, Selangor.
Construction of the Bentong project will begin in September this year and is expected to be completed in two years.
And plans have been submitted for the land conversion required for the vocational institute project to proceed, he says.
Artist impressions of front (left) and back views of the proposed Seniors’ Sanctuary. The centre will offer free food, board and care to elderly people in need.
Dhammaratana with some of the kids at the Ti-Ratana home earlier this year. He wants to make sure the elderly are also well-cared for.