Let’s look up to Madiba, say senior citizens

2011-07-15 00:00

AS South Africa prepares to celebrate former president Nelson Mandela’s birthday on Monday, The Witness spoke to some residents in local retirement centres and old-age homes to hear their views of Mandela Day.

Most agree that Madiba is exemplary and much can and must be learnt from him.

“He is one of the greatest men we’ve ever had in South Africa,” says John Joubert (85).

Others describe him as “marvellous” and “outstanding”.

Vernon Mason (87) says, “We must try to live up to his standards.”

And in doing this, adds Heather Bodkin (78), we should remember Mandela’s forgiveness.

Vitus Khumalo (60) works in maintenance at Kenwyn, a retirement centre on Pietermaritz Street. He says everyone should come together on Mandela Day and help each other. “Even half a loaf of bread” is going to help someone in need, he adds.

Mason jokes that it would be difficult to go around helping people while he uses a walker, but adds that “even in old age we can do small things”.

Last year he helped with paper recycling and this year he will help the nurses prepare surgical dressings.

Martie Venter (83) says old people can get very lonely, especially when they are sick and cannot leave their rooms. It does not take much to “just sit and chat,” she says, which can really help.

Joubert believes a cake should be eaten, but that people should use the day to remember what Mandela did for the country.

With the wisdom of age some of the residents offered a few tips for the youth.

Venter advises, “Save money.” In times of crisis and when living in your old age, money is very important, she says.

Khumalo says the youth should avoid learning the “funny things” that happen in Parliament.

Pietermaritzburg and District Council for the Care of the Aged (Padca) chief executive Hillary Mumford says the organisation “depends heavily on volunteers”.

Whether it is once-off help or over a longer period, there is plenty to do. This entails general office work, offering computer skills, basic maintenance and gardening, working in the hobby centre or just visiting a resident.

Volunteer work allows Padca to “add texture and quality” to residents’s lives, Mumford says.

People who would like to help are asked to call Jo-Anne Stevens-O’Connor at 033 345 4711 or e-mail socialwork@padca.co.za

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