Senior citizens under spotlight

2017-10-19 06:00
Lulama Sigasana, of Ikamva Labantu, relays the problems faced by the elderly during the panel conversation. PHOTOs: Mandla Mahashe

Lulama Sigasana, of Ikamva Labantu, relays the problems faced by the elderly during the panel conversation. PHOTOs: Mandla Mahashe

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Instead of enjoying their twilight years and reaping the benefits of their long lives, the elderly in society face a plethora of challenges, like being breadwinners to the offspring of generational offspring.

This was one of the many points raised to highlight the struggles of the elderly during the Sixty+Counts panel discussion hosted by the Allliance Francaise du Cap on Thursday, 12 October.

The event, which also featured a portrait exhibition of elderly citizens across Cape Town’s townships, is in celebration of the International Day of Older Persons and Older Persons Week in South Africa.

The exhibition is a partnership between the Embassy of France in South Africa and Ikamva Labantu, an NGO that runs senior clubs and outreach programmes throughout Cape Town’s townships.

The portraits were put on auction on the day with the proceeds being donated to development activities for the elderly.

According to Lulama Sigasana, Head of the Seniors Programme at Ikamva Labantu, the process was exciting for the elders as it was a move away from their daily activities.

“We have more than a thousand members who depend on their health either by visiting our facility or we have care workers who visit them at their homes.

The portraits gave our members a chance to be outside of their activities and shared a bit about themselves, how many children they have, where they worked. They really enjoyed it,” she said.

She said that such activities, including the panel discussion, were necessary to give light into the problems faced by the elderly in the townships.

“The elderly face a wide range of challenges such as abuse by their grandchildren. They have to use the little pension they have to feed their children and grandchildren. They are disrespected at public institution and also struggle with transport to facilities such as clinics,” she said.

French Ambassador to South Africa, Christophe Farnaud said that the Ikamva and France shared the same values.

“France is committed, with local partners, to the social transformation of South Africa through projects such as this one. On the occasion of the International Day of Older Persons, we wanted to highlight and promote the excellent work done by Ikamva Labantu and put the spotlight on the rights of older people in South African society,” he noted.

Panellists included Owen Kleinhans from the Department of Justice; Dr Leon Geffen, Executive Director, Samson Institute for Ageing Research; Gavin Weir, Director of Sector Task Team for Older Persons and Lulama Sigasana.

The auction resulted in R70,000-00 being raised for the Ikamva Labantu Seniors Programme, a programme that oversees and supports 19 independently managed Senior Clubs and an outreach programme throughout Cape Town’s townships.

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