Tuesday, August 9, 2011
The forgotten elderly
In many societies the elderly often get "forgotten' or ignored, this can be true in developing countries in Africa also. My friend Reverend Samuel Mahulu who I have been working closely with at the HIV clinic pointed this out to me Many organizations are getting funding for HIV, TB and malaria and children and orphans get lots of attention- as they need to, but when it comes to the elderly, they are often neglected, by their own society and the world as a whole.In Uganda there is no social security system, and most people have struggled just to make ends meet so they do not have any money saved for old age. Many of the elderly's grown children have left the village to find work in the city and are struggling themselves with caring for their own families, there is often no money left over to send home to the aging parents. Or worse, the children have died from HIV or some other disease and have abandoned the grandchildren in the village with the grandparents. As these grandparents age, there is often no one to look after their needs. As they age some of these people are really having difficulty just maintaining their daily basic needs such as food and water. As their physical health fails they are no longer able to go to the well to get water, or gather firewood ,or plant a garden. These are basic survival needs in rural villages in Africa,
They may have no one to help them or to visit them . They are unable to maintain their physical homes and their health.Reverend Muhulu and his church have started an wonderful organization in their church and want to expand the program to the whole community, then all of Uganda and even beyond.
It is called the African Development Association for the Elderly, their goal is to link youth and neighbors to the elderly that are unable to care for themselves. They have already begun visits to the elderly within their community and are assisting 30 people that are unable to provide for themselves. The organization has linked some generous neighbors with some of the elderly who will provide meals and firewood and water. They also have built some small dwellings for elderly who have had no where to live. They want to be able to build the organization to buy rain water catchment tanks, repair homes, (many homes have leaking roofs, holes in walls, no bedding and are infested with rats ,mice and bedbugs). They want to provide basic health care for these people, and transport to the clinic as needed. There goals are to improve the living conditions, health and sociailization of these people. These goals are lofty for a poor church organization, whose members may only be able to donate 20 cents a month towards the project, but they are committed, organized and caring towards these elders, where governments and even the elders own families lack compassion. I was very impressed with these folks and the love they showed towards these old people who are truly suffering. It is another area in which many people are having a difficult time.