SAIVA is a central Texas-based 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization that promotes a sense of well-being, belonging and fulfillment for older adults of South Asian heritage through community engagement, education, partnership building, and advocacy & civic involvement.
SAIVA’s vision is of a society where everyone aspires to age and has a meaningfully engaged, purposeful and dignified life with independence and choice. SAIVA, the organization, shall have established and sustainable programs, as well as adequate resources that will support this vision in perpetuity.
“Saiva Bhaav” - a sense of service and a belief in giving back to the community – is key to a sense of belonging.
Dr. Manorama Asthana retired from her successful 33-year career as a physician in 1991 and moved to the US to be with her family. As a professional in demand, back in India, she was surrounded by a community needing her attention and services 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. In the US, while her family went to work or study, she supported the home and occupied herself in hobbies including gardening, reading, prescribing alternative therapy and music. As she grew older, her ability to reach out to others or do things independently diminished along with a sense of self and connections with others. As a vibrant, outgoing, strong person, given independent transport and ability to find opportunities to occupy her, she would be able to be a productive community member. She has been the inspiration behind SAIVA, along with the many seniors like her.
As South Asians migrate globally, the senior population is displaced from the familiar community structure, and there is a strong need to create new social structures where they can thrive. Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outliers” starts with a description of the off-the-chart excellent health records of the senior Italian immigrant community in Roseto. Research indicated that this sustained and incredible health of the population could only be attributed to the highly participative social structures in the community. SAIVA aims to build these inter-relationships in the community.
The younger immigrant generation is focused on succeeding in their professions and ensuring that their children integrate well into the local communities. Time is in short supply as they struggle to enable their parents’ generation to participate in the new structure. Even as the parents are part of their immediate family, they have a sense of loss of independence and community participation they enjoyed in their home countries. As the immigrants grow older and their children settle in the adopted countries, they have more time to give to the communities as well. Opportunities to gather with an own-age group allows a sharing of issues and a sense of belonging in the family and community.
The August 2009 New York Times article by Patricia Leigh Brown titled "Elderly immigrant population: growing and miserable; Groups try to care for little-heard voices" highlights this as an issue among immigrants. SAIVA believes that given some basic resources, this section of the population can be a very productive part of society. These seniors, apart from being well-educated themselves, have fostered many entrepreneurs and successful professionals. Their love and enthusiasm to do more should be given wings to make a strong, healthy community as in Roseto.