An 87-year-old woman's quest to change the game for the elderly

An 87-year-old woman’s quest to change the game for the elderly

Dar es Salaam. A litany of “empty promises” over the welfare of older people has spurred Clotilda Kokupima, 87, to act to ensure that the interests of older people are taken seriously.

Murders, poor access to health services and lack of law to guide policy for the elderly are some of the things that are making life difficult for the elderly in Tanzania, experts say.

Ms. Kokupima believes that older people have the power to claim their rights, breaking with the norm that only young people have the energy to advance agendas that affect older people.

Last May, President Samia Suluhu Hassan highlighted key steps taken by the government to improve the welfare of older people in the country, including the 2003 review of the National Policy on Aging.

She said the policy review would, among other things, help address some of the challenges the group faces as the government struggles to enact legislation to protect their rights and welfare.

President Hassan made the revelation during her meeting with around 900 elders in Dar es Salaam.

During the meeting, the then Chairman of the Council of Elders of Dar es Salaam, Mr. Salim Matimbwa briefed the Head of State on the various challenges faced by the Elders including limited access to services health and low representation in various decision-making bodies.

In response, Ms. Hassan said that all elders in the country are entitled to health services at all health centers, dispensaries and even the national hospital.

But, Mrs. Kokupima has come up with a different approach to accelerate her zeal to improve the welfare of the elderly by launching a campaign to raise funds for the construction of a welfare and recreation center for the elderly in the Kasulu district, Kigoma region. Speaking at the campaign launch on Wednesday in Dar es Salaam, Ms Kokupima said the poor conditions of the elderly in the country pushed her to ensure the facility was built.

She noted that through donations, the center has already acquired land and built one of eight structures that will complete what she called the first elderly welfare and recreation center (Kigoma Day Care and Recreation Centre).

“We have already started by constructing a building and others will follow. We want it not to be just a residence, it should be a center that will include a health facility, a space where the elderly can rest, hold meetings, have fun, etc. “, she said.

She further noted that there will also be job skills building in the direction of small activities that will help older people see that there is something they can still do.

“This construction needs 570 million shillings, that’s why I have taken this issue to people of good will to support us,” she told a group of various stakeholders who came to support the project. launch of the strategy.

“From this center, I would like to see every region and district of our country having such state-of-the-art centers, where all services would be available for the elderly who are in difficult conditions,” he said. she noted.

According to Mr. Joseph Mbasha of HelpAge, who was one of the guests at the launch, despite the existence of the policy for the elderly for 19 years, several things are not being implemented due to the absence of a law that will provide guidance on how to do it.

Citing as an example, the whole issue of medical treatment where the policy dictates that it be free for the elderly, but there is no law that governs it. As a result, the group lacks quality health services because they have no money.

Through her organization of intellectual children, Endeleza Wazee Kigoma (Ewaki), Kiswahili for “Empowering the Elderly of Kigoma”, Ms. Kokupima had to start the organization after retiring and seeing how the elderly were doing facing various challenges.

“Personally, I can’t say that I went through so many difficulties. I was a teacher and later served as secretary of the CCM (ruling party) in several districts, but I had the idea of ​​starting this organization after seeing the life of the elderly people around me in Kasulu, in Kigoma region.

She noted with concern that the elderly were leading a difficult life, causing some to become beggars around people’s shops, begging for food. “It pained me a lot.”

“Even the clothes were a challenge for some. I saw the need to find help for my fellow seniors, many of whom have already passed away due to mental stress and lack of proper care for their health,” she told the Citizen in an interview.

Despite the lack of basic needs, including food, shelter and clothing, Ms. Kokupima also notes that many older people face loneliness, which contributes significantly to premature death.

“In rural areas, the elderly are left to fend for themselves. They have no one to take care of them, which is why you will hear that someone died alone in the house. In urban areas, older people who live with their children are locked indoors.

“You will find the head of the family and the mother working, the children go to school, an old man is left alone at home or with a household help who does not have time to take care of him”, she noted.

The situation is what gives Ms. Kokupima sleepless nights at her age, making her realize the importance of recreation centers for the elderly.

However, because she cannot accomplish the heavy mission alone, she is seeking funding from all interested groups, local and international, to realize her dream.

A long-awaited trip

Prior to caring for the elderly across Kigoma Region, Ms. Kokupima started with Kasulu District where through the organization she sought out and provided assistance to the elderly.

“There was a time when I went to Europe and saw how our colleagues served the elderly. There are special centers where they receive all kinds of care. There are doctors, physiotherapists who help the elderly, they play sports and find a space to exchange ideas,” she revealed.

“I was more interested in the design of these centers where there are various craft activities that the elderly people were doing, unlike when a person is elderly here, they sit idle waiting for their death,” she said.

Ms Kokupima, who also chairs the network of organizations that support older people, said her wish was to one day see older people safe, well cared for and respected because of the great things they have done in the world. this country.

“Respect for the elderly is diminishing day by day, starting with the family, the community and even the government. Only those in leadership positions are respected,” she noted with concern.

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