It’s day 47 of self-quarantine – or is it 48? I’ve honestly lost count. I haven’t stepped out of my house in weeks, but it’s still a good day. It’s yet another day to be grateful for the roof over my head, the food on my plate, and for being able to have my loved ones around during this time. I find myself pondering over the situation of those who aren’t as blessed as I am – those struggling to sustain. It makes me feel helpless. This train of thought leads me back to an insightful conversation I had with my aunt about something similar, a few weeks ago. 

My aunt Ann wanted to give back to society, in whatever way possible. In 1995 ‘We Care Community Services’ – her initiative that primarily aided orphanages and cancer centers – was born. When she moved back to India after retiring from her teaching career in Oman, she wanted to continue making a change, no matter what the scale. But there was a huge question mark. From where would a retired person source the funds to continue such an activity? This is where her passion to help other people met her hobbies.

Group picture was taken at St. Gregorious Dayabhavan, Bangalore on 7th February 2016

Being involved in charity post-retirement seems like a herculean task. It’s understandable, right? Is it wrong to want to secure your own future before helping anyone else? Well, what if I told you that the two didn’t have to necessarily be mutually exclusive? You don’t need to dig into your savings to bring a smile on someone else’s face. The only thing you need is resolution. 

“With age, many issues will crop up – ailments, monetary limitations. But that shouldn’t cripple your thoughts, or make you shelf your dreams. You just need to find a way to work around them,” I remember her saying.

‘Flames: Ann’s Taste of Home’ was started with the aim of putting her love for cooking to good use. She catered to small parties, participated in food exhibitions, and even set up an outlet. These activities took off well, and all of the profits were dedicated to the needs of We Care. Soon, however, certain health issues forced her to take a break from this venture.

She said, “I was not willing to surrender to my health issues completely. I turned to writing, something I’d always loved doing. From my sickbed, my first book found its wings.” From a biography of her parents to a book on the symbols and significance of the Orthodox Church services, she published two successful books, the profits of which were again used for charity purposes. I remember her telling me that it wasn’t easy facing rejections several times on something you worked so hard for, but in the end, you just need to keep going and you’ll see the light at the end of the tunnel. Three more books are underway, and I can’t wait to read them!

The picture was taken at Mrs. Ann Minnie’s residence in February 2015

That conversation made me realize that we often tend to brush off social work with countless excuses. But when a retired woman with physical health issues could raise money by simply doing what she loved, I realized that any excuse we make is a trivial one. There’s always a small voice inside our heads telling us to do good – we just need to grab our inner megaphones, amplify that voice, and channel it towards taking real action. Aunt Ann’s story made me realize that age is not an excuse, it’s just a number. Feeling all charged up, I started thinking of ways in which I could help out the less fortunate, and I hope reading this article motivated you too!

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