By Sydney Gokomere
Mberengwa, October 19, 2016 – A local civic leader has challenged the elderly to engage in self help projects as opposed to solely depending on handouts from hard pressed family members and society.
Speaking during commemorations to mark the International Day of the Elderly People in Mberengwa recently, Helen Hove Community Elderly Care Trust (HHCECT) chairperson Naison Shava said growing old did not mean inability to perform physical tasks.
Shava said although society was generally expected to look after the aged, they (elderly) should be equally involved in activities intended for their own upkeep.
“Growing old does not mean inability; it’s a natural phenomenon that should be accepted but at the same time, the elderly can engage in self help projects to augment the assistance they get from society,” Shava said.
“The elderly should be empowered so that they continue to be productive.”
Most elderly people in urban areas and those being taken care of at old people’s homes rely on donations from well wishers.
This is in contrast to most of their peers in rural areas who can still engage in self help projects such as gardening, poultry production and crop irrigation.
Speaking at the same occasion, Centre for Community Development Solution district coordinator, Walter Mutenheri said his organisation was committed to making communities a safer place for the elderly.
He said the aged should be respected as they were a fountain of wisdom and experience where the young could tap from.
Zimbabwe’s elderly citizens who are above 60 years constitute 6% of the total national population.
Over the years, government has been struggling to cater for old people’s needs owing to a recurrent economic crisis and the breakdown of social security systems.
Some of the previously employed elderly lost their savings during the country’s hyper inflationery period between 2005 and 2009 while some of those who had built homes in towns lost the structures during government’s Operation Murambatsvina in 2005.
During the period, government dispatched teams to demolish structures which were built outside city councils’ approval.
Owners of the structures relied on renting them out to make a living.