SMIT is an Old Age Home and Care Foundation that aims to create a support system for the needy senior citizens to live a respectable, satisfying, quality life by filling the gaps with the contribution of change makers for the achievement of empathetic holistic wellbeing. They believe in giving all residents a family and a circle of friends and are the winners of the RR Impact Award Organisation category at The Restore Awards 2021. We at Unhurry interviewed the founder, Yojana Gharat about her journey. Here is an extremely uplifting read of the interview!
Q. What prompted you to begin your journey?
YG: My social work journey began long before SMIT started. I used to work in organizations that helped children with special needs and individuals affected by leprosy. With every passing day, I met many people– some relatives of the members we were caring for and others who would come to volunteer. Regardless of their relationship with the place, many senior citizens would often come up to me and talk about how as they started aging, they felt like they were not being supported. Their bodies were giving in, their relatives turning away, their doctors giving up on them, and to an extent, they even felt like God had left their side. After hearing various versions of the same problem, something struck me; I now knew what I wanted to do. There were always going to be people to look after children with special needs, but what about senior citizens? I wanted to give them a place to call their own and a place where they felt like they were still loved, cared for, and respected. This thought set me off on my SMIT journey, and today I can proudly say that this thought has fuelled my vision, a vision that today lets me care for around 80 members, a vision that keeps me working so we can expand and bring more members home.
Q. When you began, were there other people like you struggling in the same space? If yes, what would your message be to them?
YG: When I started, many people were embarking on the same journey as I was. The only difference between them and me is that they had all the resources, support, financial advantage, etc., to start a nursing home; all I had was the drive to help and the love towards these individuals who needed some care and support.
I thought about what I, as a child or a grandchild, would want to do for my grandparents and how I could help them. With this idea, my passion, and a heart full of love, I started SMIT.
YG: To anyone who is struggling in the same space that I was at one point, all I would like to say is that I had nothing when I began, but today I’m here with a nursing home that cares for around 80 members, so if I could do it, then so can you!
Q. What are the three top things you have learned in this journey?
YG: Working with senior citizens is not always easy. We face so many hurdles every day, one different from another, but the gratification we feel when we look at them walking around with a smile on their face is enough to keep us going. In this process, we also learn so much about ourselves, them, and the world in general.
The top three things that I have learned on this journey are patience, love, and care.
YG: Patience while working with our members, the realization of how one can love someone else so endlessly and how that love can manifest into something bigger, and finally, to be able to put someone else’s needs before yours and care for them with no expectations and with nothing but pure intentions.
Q. If you were to look back at your earlier self, what would be one piece of advice/message you would give to yourself?
If I were to look back at my younger self, I would tell her that nothing is impossible. If her heart and mind are in the right place, she can make anything possible. She is possible, and her vision is possible.
Q. What was your reaction when you were told that you were winning The Restore trophy out of 1118 nominations?
YG: When I first started out on this journey, I found many people working alongside me. We always helped and learned from each other; I never looked at them as competition. At the end of the day, we were all working for the same cause, and if it benefited the larger crowd, then any win would be a win for society. With that said, we were ecstatic to hear that we were winning The Restore Awards Trophy. It definitely is a sign that everything we worked for is finally falling into place.
Q. What are your plans for 2022?
YG: Our plan, as an organization, for the year 2022, is to be able to install around 300 beds in Thane and accommodate senior citizens, mentally unstable and morally collabs individuals, and orphans. The bigger picture we would like to paint is a world where everyone is looked at with love and respect and where everyone is cared for.
Q. Give one message to the readers of this platform that will inspire them to stay strong and positive.
YG: The one message that I would like to leave all of you with is to treat your parents like your kids. They looked after us as we grew, and now it’s our turn. Give them some love, care, and attention, and they will not ask you for anything more. We can be better for society, but before that, it is important we start at home.
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