Walk, fresh air kills boredom

2016-10-18 06:00
Residents of the Douglas Murray Home of the Aged in Retreat participated in their annual walk in the area, which has been organised yearly for more than a decade. PHOTO: TIYESE JERANJI

Residents of the Douglas Murray Home of the Aged in Retreat participated in their annual walk in the area, which has been organised yearly for more than a decade. PHOTO: TIYESE JERANJI

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Senior citizens in retirement homes are often idle with nothing to do. One such resident knows just what is needed to combat this boredom.

To make sure that the pensioners at the Douglas Murray home in Retreat are not trapped inside the home, Julina Manuel (78) – a former exco member at the home – has been organising a walk for the past 10 years for these elderly people to get some fresh air.

“I have been in a home myself and I know how boring it can be. I decided to do this because I know how much it means to them. They look forward to this day every year. I also bake and make ginger beer for them to enjoy after the walk. I do this all from my own pocket.

“I’m really grateful to the Steenberg police and the learners at St Mary’s who have been helping us take the elderly out,” she says.

Theresa Braaf, a resident of Douglas Murray, says it feels good to be taking a walk.

“This is very important for us. At times we just sit and do nothing. Yes, some of us go out, but it’s really nice when we go out together and enjoy the sun and fresh air. I’m thankful to the teachers as well as the parents who allow the learners to be here. This is a huge responsibility and we are very grateful,” she says

They usually go out on a 2km walk in the area, but this year their walk was shortened as they were worried about safety following a gang shooting in the area.

Fred Daniels, centre manager, says the walk has been organised annually for over a decade.

“Most of the elderly are wheelchair-bound; it’s really difficult for them to go out. We are glad that we had our walk like we usually do, though this time it was short. We didn’t want to extend it to dangerous areas and put our elderly, as well as out learners, in danger.

“We hope that this situation will improve and the elderly can enjoy the streets like any other community member. The streets also belong to them and they have every right to be on the street without fear,” he says.

Grade 7 learners of St Mary’s Roman Catholic Primary School participate in the walk as part of their outreach programme.

“Each year the Grade 7s come and help out with pushing the senior citizens on wheelchairs and walk with those who want to be (assisted). This is also part of their life skills. We prepare them before coming here on what to do and what to expect. Some stay with grandparents whilst others don’t have grandparents, so it’s an experience for them,” says Grade 7 teacher Karen Hamman.

“We also collect money that we give to the home after the walk. This walk has mixed feelings for our learners. We make it a point that despite it being the last term and we have so much work we come out and help. This is just to show the learners that no matter how busy you are, you should make time for important people in your life.”

Shana Richards, one of the learners, says she enjoyed the walk.

“It teaches us a lot on how to talk to the elderly and we are taught on how important it is for us to help them go out.”

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