Hope Senior Citizens’ Home in New Palam Vihar is a one-man venture by J F Williams. A tall, fair, soft-spoken man of 72, who lost the vision in one eye 46 years ago, he has undergone five operations in the other eye already but being a relentless fighter has not lost hope of helping others in need.
Williams usually walks several kilometres from his house in IFFCO Chowk to manage the home for the less privileged, when he is not attending YMCA meetings. A former director of the New Delhi YMCA, Williams took voluntary retirement from the Indian Oil Corporation years ago to devote himself to social service, "the hallmark of a good Christian". For that reason he invested his post-retirement benefits in the project dear to his heart as he was moved by the plight of old people, who were considered misfits by their relations and needed accommodation for their own free existence. Williams bought a plot of about 580 square metres in 2002 and fought for three years with the local authorities to build a concrete road to the old-age home, which has five large rooms and an attached bathroom, along with a dormitory that can be used by eight people. But the twin-problem of water scarcity and communication dissuades many old-timers from making use of the home.
Right now there are only two inmates-an old man and an old woman, considered unwanted by their sons and daughters-in-law. But sometimes there are more. Williams keeps them company, cooks for them and swabs the place, often spending the night also at the home to instil confidence in broken hearts. The inmates’ families do not regularly pay for their upkeep but Williams manages to cater to their needs with donations that he is sometimes able to get. He doesn’t ask for money so much as for contributions in kind-cooking gas, rice, flour, tea, sugar, salt and medicines. A former aquatics champion, who represented Delhi State, Williams is a graduate of Shri Ram College of Commerce. The home is open to all communities without distinction of caste and creed. As a matter of fact, there are scriptures of all religions available for the inmates to read and relax.
Such a venture surely needs public cooperation, for how long can poor Williams keep it going alone in his 73rd year?