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Culture and Context in Service

 

For Dr. Vasundhara Kalasapudi, the operative term is 'culturally-sensitive'.  Being a highly-respected and long-serving professional in the field of geriatrics, Dr. K [as she is fondly known to many] has been a close witness to services provided to seniors.  The government, the health care industry, a multitude of service organizations - all were providing a whole spectrum of services to seniors of Indian origin in the borough of Queens in New York city.  But Dr. Kalasapudi, a geriatric psychiatrist, and being the highly perceptive and empathetic person, saw a yawning gap between the services offered and the 'real' needs of the senior citizens.  It was the lack of a culturally appropriate setting and understanding the context of those being served.

This epiphany led to the birth of India Home.  [www.indiahome.org].  Today India Home runs weekly senior day programs at various locations in Queens and Long Island. These daily programs are specially tuned to fulfill the needs of this particular demography.  Yoga sessions, Bollywood dance lessons, free vegetarian lunches, brain puzzles and other cognitive exercises - all this and more is offered at multiple locations.  More importantly, these programs serve as a time and place for the seniors to meet, socialize and reaffirm their sense of self and build kinship in a milieu that they are comfortable in.

It is said that all politics is local.  But the social entrepreneur Dr. K has discovered and demonstrated that all service has to be contextual and cultural!

Venkatesh [Venky] Raghavendra