OLD, POOR, FORGOTTEN
Old age in uganda is synonym for over dependence and stress to the younger generations so it is rarely talked about. Many believe that the best option for the elderly is stay in rural areas where they can grow food and have no worries about the hustles of modern living.
In uganda, there are approximately 1.8 million elderly people which is conciderably small compared to the overall population of 44 million. With numbers as low as that, it would be easy to assume that their needs are catered for efficiently but thats far from it. Old age looks good only on paper in Uganda with a government ministry available to ensure their well being but thats usually where it ends. In documents, words and empty promises.
Many older people lost families to HIV/Aids leaving them with no one to look after them as they grow older. As if that's not enough, majority of children in rural areas are looked after by their grandparents when their parents pass away. However the older people are in most cases not in good condition for that task. Majority are blind, deaf , lame or sick and being that they are so far away, they have poor access to medical services.
Just the other day, i was driving around delivering food packages to the elderly when I saw one walking along a 1km dusty road stretch. I was curious to know where she was headed, because i knew she wouldn't be able to carry the package, and neither would she accept a ride from a stranger. So i decided to park and go talk to her. As i got out, i noticed her walking zigzag. She was dizzy and fainted in the middle of the road. To my surprise all the bodabodas(motorcycles) were just passing her by instead of helping her. I got to her, got her on a bodaboda to take her home as i followed behind. On reaching, i asked her what made her walk such a long distance and she replied "A young man borrowed 40k($14) from me one year ago and he hasn't returned it yet. So i had to walk to the police station to report him. I need that money to buy glasses because i can't see properly"
Stories like that are very common among the older people.To us they usually seem simple, but to themthey mean the world if worked on.It's absolutely sad that they complain about the same problems year in and year out without being heard . So while thousands of projects and discussions are planeed for women, youth, the boychild and more, who is the voice of the elderly. Or have we justified that because they no longer add much to society, we can forget about them. Well i beg to differ. They do mean alot to society because engraved in them is a wealth of culture, knowledge, wisdom that we need to learn from.
So when was the last time you extended help to an older person?