Connecting local responses around the world
Mid afternoon sun shines bright as we pass by a garden to Agnes house. She is the secretary of older persons group in Kabaale, a suburb community of Entebbe, Uganda. What surprises us is that out of about 13 women there are three women who are much younger- two in their late thirties and one is 16 years old Paulina. Multiple generations coming together in meeting convened by older women is common in this community. When people are raised in different time periods, their thinking can be quite different, and this can lead to difficulties in understanding one another. Inspite of this age gap we found links between younger and older generations. “In our neighbourhood, men of our age do not get together but we like to and often these younger women join us. The younger women even help in organising the meeting…we can’t run around now.” says an older woman.
Group meetings have facilitated this process in many ways. For instance, meetings create opportunities for younger and older women to spend time together and swap stories which builds a connection. SALT has helped them appreciate each other and exchange experiences. “I like to attend these meetings because I learn important things. I did not know how to weave a mat but these older women taught me. I have also learned to operate the oven and bake cakes” Says Paulina who is a teenager and a school student. Another women in her late thirties says that she taken the advice of older women in looking after her mother who is very old and cannot move around. “The older women are very wise. I enjoy learning from them. They have taught me what healthy ageing is all about. Older women are also more disciplined.”
Developing connections with a younger generation has helped older women feel a greater sense of fulfillment. Younger women have invigorated and energized older women. “I took a counselling course with young girls old enough to be my grand daughters. It was not easy but the young girls helped me in the course.”
Loneliness is common among older women. Many of them have lost their loved ones. The group interactions bring the women together, share problems and ideas and reduce their isolation. “Three weeks ago one of our members lost her adult daugther. We all went together to be with her. In some situations older women are bedridden and cannot join us for meetings. So we do home vists. We value the support of younger women in such cases.” During the meetings the women do not sit idle, they continue to do crochet, weave mats, do knitting. This gives them a sense of purpose. Encouraged by her grandmother, Paulina has set up a little kitchen garden. Pointing towards me, she told Agnes her grandmother, “did you show her my garden…did she see the mangoes on the tree?”
Florence a member of the SALT team and a young mother concluded, “These older women inspite of their age are always engaged in some activity. They inspire me for healthy ageing.”
Through community life competence with a focus on commonality rather than differences, enriched intergenerational relationships can develop. Building capacity of the community to encourage people of different ages to interact and actively engage in their neighbourhood can build healthier, more cohesive and sustainable communities.
Thus, in Kabaale by combinging experience and wisdom of the older women and energy and enthusiasm of the younger women, community is finding local solutions to promote health and well-being.
Some other similar stories