Virtual release of the Book “Gapa Hi Jibana” on the occasion of International Day of Older Persons (IDOP), 1 October 2020

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Bhubaneswar, October 1 2020: On the occasion of International Day of Older Persons (IDOP), Social Security and Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (SSEPD) Department, GoO, Livolink Foundation and Unmukt Foundation did the virtual release of the book “Gapa Hi Jibana”. The book “Gapa Hi Jibana” is an anthology of stories by Senior Citizens across Bhubaneswar. It contains 55 stories, most of them in Oriya and a few in English and Hindi. The book was launched by Shri.Bhaskar Sarma, Commissioner-cum-Secretary, SSEPD Department, GoO in the presence of Smt.Susmita Bagchi- Eminent Oriya Writer and Novelist, Odisha Sahitya Academy Award Winner and Chairperson, Mo School Program, Shri.Manas Sathpathy, TrusteeLivolink Foundation and Shri.Varun Kappal Regional Manager- Tata Trusts & Executive Director- Livolink Foundation.
The book is an outcome of the five-month long journey of engaging senior citizens in experience sharing through storytelling, story writing and art sessions. Realizing the fact that the Senior Citizens have a rich life experience to share, which will not be unraveled unless they are provided a platform, the “Gapa Hi Jibana” program was a positive step towards this. The main idea behind the program was to capture the real life stories of Senior Citizens through a series of story telling sessions aimed at providing a safe, non-judgemental space to them where they can openly share their stories and emotions.
The members participating in story telling sessions were also taken through Story Telling and Writing Workshops as part of Gapa Hi Jibana (“Stories are Life”) series. The objective of these workshops was to help participants develop structure and character in their stories and help them identify and tell their personal stories in a more interesting and impactful way. The third way of engaging the elderly was through meditation and art session.
More than 250 Senior Citizens were taken through this journey and 55 selected stories have been compiled into the book “Gapa Hi Jibana” or “Stories are Life”. The book also includes messages from the Hon’ble Minister, Shri. Ashok Chandra Panda, Social Security and Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (SSEPD) Department, GoO and Chairman, Livolink Foundation Shri. Arun Pandhi.
Speaking on the occasion, Shri.Bhaskar Sarma, Commissioner-cum-Secretary, SSEPD
Department, GoO said “This is a challenging time for all of us and there is a need to work on the mental, physical and spiritual health of Senior Citizens. Virtual platforms and creative writing are good for engaging them but we need to create more such forums”. He added that there is a huge need for Digital Literacy programs for the Senior Citizens in the current scenario where everything has gone virtual due to the Covid 19 Pandemic and the ensuing lockdown.”
Eminent Odiya Writer and Novelist, Smt.Susmita Bagchi said “The stories written by the Senior Citizens as included in the “Gapa Hi Jibana Book” although are in different languages and themes, yet they are all connected with the same emotion and picked up from real life experiences which makes it unique.”
Shri.Manas Sathpathy, Trustee- Livolink Foundation said, “The elderly population in India is 8.6% of the total population as per Population Census 2011. It is good that life expectancy has increased and hence the population of senior citizens is increasing. However, living longer is not enough, we have to make the lives of senior citizens more rewarding by making their engagement with the society more meaningful.”
Shri.Varun Kappal Regional Manager- Tata Trusts & Executive Director- Livolink Foundation
said “The impact that we have created through our program can be taken forward not only in Odisha but also in other States.”
More than 70 people, mostly Senior Citizens participated in the virtual function. A few Senior Citizens narrated their stories and a few others sang song on the occasion. They said that before sixty, they remain busy in life’s responsibilities and after sixty they can spend time on self and explore their interests and passion areas. They have very less expectations but aspire for a dignified life. All of them thanked Livolink Foundation and Unmukt Foundation for providing them a platform for sharing their real life experiences in the form of stories and compiling those into the book “Gapa Hi Jibana”.

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