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Sunday, April 11, 2021

The Social Paathshala: An initiative to empower the elderly

The internet era and the social media we live in today have impacted our lives in many ways making things way too easier for us. However, there is still on how to handle social media and navigate the internet, especially for senior citizens.

But, in order to address this problem, Mahima Bhalotia, launched “The Social Paathshala” application last year. An initiative that teaches the elderly online tools, improving their digital knowledge to “empower” and make them self-reliant. It initially started in ‘offline mode,’ but the lockdown forced the initiative to be taken online.

Watch the video:

In Conversation with Mahima Bhalotia

This Mumbai-Based entrepreneur is empowering the elderly through her initiative “The Social Paathshala”. Read more: https://bit.ly/34L51VT

Posted by Platocast on Saturday, October 31, 2020

Now, where did she get this idea from?

“Last year, when one of my colleagues told me that her parents don’t know how to use Uber, it made me wonder that there might be many others who might not know how to operate Uber, Ola and other apps – due to which they have to seek help from their children, making them dependent. The idea started from there,” Mahima said.

She further stated: “Later, the lockdown only worsened the situation for the elderly as many did not know how to do everything online – from buying groceries to connecting with their loved ones. “It made sense for me to do this full-time during the lockdown as a lot of people needed help.”

As a part of this initiative, she has been able to successfully train and educate more than 200 senior citizens. Most of whom have been the victim of online frauds. She takes personalized sessions and group sessions with a number of NGO’s and other initiatives that aim to help the elderly people. The Social Pasthshala has recently collaborated with other NGO’s like HUM Communities and Yeh Mera India, in order to conduct sessions to educate about the safety measures from online fraud. The sessions are conducted in Hindi and English, apart from just educating their elderly students on how to adapt to the ‘new normal,’ they also set up a convenient time on personal calls to clarify their doubts.

What are the challenges Bhalotia had to face?

People had their doubts about this course, a trial class was necessary because that’s where the comfort and trust came in and she could continue her classes further. “The problem that I initially faced is the trust factor. This is why I chose to spread the word via newspaper as that is seen as a trusted, authentic source by the older generation,” Mahima said.

Mahima started “The Social Paathshala” with a very philanthropic mindset, but many of them weren’t comfortable taking classes without having to pay anything, so she decided to charge a minimum fee of Rs 99 for the group sessions and a little more for the personal sessions. She has restricted the classes to three sessions per day because many have office during the week so she takes her sessions on weekends.

“I started this initiative with my mother and a friend last year alongside my job, like a side-hustle, but I officially took it up full-time in May 2020,” Mahima said.

The team of “The Social Paathshala” aims to reach people across the country. “I want to make sure that all of these sessions are online because in the future holding a group session will be extremely challenging, so I want more and more people to understand how to come online and take these sessions. My wish is to be able to reach more and more people,” she said.

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