Connecting local responses around the world
Though Beatrice hails from Namisindwa District in the Eastern Region of Uganda, she is working and living presently at Masaka, in Central Uganda. Beatrice is a social worker working for the older persons in the organization called: Support the Elderly Persons (STEP), Uganda.
Why Older Persons?
STEP is her own initiative. As there was nothing to bring older persons together, Beatrice started STEP to collectivize them. Moreover, there were many programs for other age groups like children, youth, women, disabled people, and PLHIV, but there wasn't any for older persons. Yet the older persons were increasing in the community and were struggling with issues like taking care of orphans, because of the death of the youth due to HIV. Also, there was the problem of the house and property of the older persons being taken away by their children.
Some of the challenges Beatrice found were:
- The Community does not want to associate with the older persons.
- The Older persons dis not have any savings. They mostly had given away their savings to the youth and so were now suffering.
- Moreover, most of the older persons had not worked in the Government or Private Sectors and hence did not have a pension.
-Most of the Older persons look for quick-fix solutions for their problems.
-Finally, the distance Beatrice had to travel to meet the community was more of a personal problem.
How Beatrice overcame the Challenges:
By including the older persons in the program Beatrice could:
- Get them together
- Get solutions for their concerns
- By working with the community reduce the discrimination
- Work together with other service providers
- Allow the older persons to elect their own leader.
What Beatrice Learnt:
- Once the older persons came together, they share their experiences, and solutions for their problems evolve
- The large potential of the older persons to address their own problems
- Once the community understands their responsibility towards the older persons, the community will be able to help them.
- There are people in the community who are willing to contribute financially to the welfare of the older persons.
- There are also members in the community who are willing to serve the older persons, like a neighbour cooking a meal for the older person or persons, or clean the home of an older person, and so on.
- The older persons when they get together are able to share who needs the group's attention and help them accordingly.
- Only those with interest in older persons must work with them
- None should undermine the knowledge, the experience, the skills, and the resources of the older persons.
- The older persons need a lot of understanding
- The older persons must be allowed to create their own environment conducive for their solutions to take root.
- The older persons have the solutions to their own problems
- The community should look into the future through the eyes of the older persons in that the growth of the community will in future be old.
- This will make the youth to treat the older persons with dignity, respect, love, and care.
- We must advocate with the Government to establish programs that are age-friendly.
- We must all appreciate the older persons for the work they had done when they were healthy
- Thus, we and the Government are only repaying the older persons for what they had done when they were young or healthy.
- Health services are vital and special sections and services must be devoted to old persons.
- There is need to form an association of those working with the older persons in order to advocate with the Government.
- Finally, in order to spread awareness across the county and the world, the older persons day of 1st October must be publicized as by, of and for the older persons.