Society Must Be Accountable To The Older Citizens In Their Sunset Years
Every first day of October celebrates the international day for older persons. Despite the key aspect of contribution that this group of persons has made to society, there is little that a majority of them can look forward to in terms of celebration. Based on the response to assistance sort from the Optiven Foundation with regard to reaching out to older persons, it is clear that many in their sunset years are living in a gloomy cocoon.
Some that the foundation has interacted with have had no reason to live based on the squalor and poverty of both socio-economic support and personal will to have a better time in the sunset years. A case in point is the intervention of the Optiven Foundation in building houses for the forgotten citizens of Kakululo. In each of the cases, it was clear that the community and society at large had turned a blind eye to the older citizens in the ensuring that their dignity is maintained in old age.
Apart from the interventions by the Optiven Foundation, we continue to be bombarded by news of some old people living in trees and caves yet society continues existing as if it is business as usual. The case of Njuguna Ng’ang’a is a sad one. The 95 year old is a widower who lives in the trunk of a blue gum tree on the Maili Saba along the Nakuru-Nyahururu Road.
Speaking to a section of the Kenyan media, he confirmed he had stayed in that condition since 2013 where he says he is waiting for his days to end. And he is part of a society being a father of four – living in wanting living conditions with lack of clothing, food, and anything else courtesy of well-wishers. His case is just one among many others that has reached the media but those with teary tales of neglect and anguish are yet to even be counted.
ABOVE: One of the houses that was inhabited by an elderly person in Kakululo and the house that Optiven Built for them
It is scenarios like this that come to mind as the world celebrates the international day for older persons on 1st October 2019. A clear contradiction stands in the way of this year’s theme – The Journey to Age Equality – where the gap is gaping towards the effects of poverty and how it affects the older persons. The observation of the day which is global in nature based on the endorsement from the United Nations, is attached to the attainment or efforts thereof to meet Agenda 2030 alongside Sustainable Development Goal Number 10.
SDG Number 10 focuses on pathways of coping with post and pre old age inequalities with the aim of ensuring equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcome. This includes on a broad scale measures that eliminate discrimination, empowering and promoting social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status.
ABOVE: Mr. George Wachiuri, Chairman of the Optiven Foundation while speaking at a session organized by Centonomy at Apollo Center in Westlands, Nairobi.
In the case of Kenya and Africa – apart from South Africa - disparities in old age reflect an accumulated disadvantage characterized by factors such as: location, gender, socio‐economic status, health and income. The United Nations estimates that between 2015 and 2030, the number of people aged 60 and over is expected to increase from 901 million to 1.4 billion.
This means that trends of ageing and economic inequality interact across generations and rapid population ageing, demographic and societal or structural changes alone, can exacerbate older age inequalities, thereby limiting economic growth and social cohesion.
As the world celebrates this important day, it is important to bear in mind a number of truths. Stakeholders should among other intervention consider the following:-
- Draw attention to the existence of old age inequalities and how this often results from a cumulation of disadvantages throughout life, and highlight intergenerational risk of increased old age inequalities.
- Bring awareness to the urgency of coping with existing — and preventing future — old age inequalities.
- Explore societal and structural changes in view of life course policies: life-long learning, proactive and adaptive labour policies, social protection and universal health coverage.
- Reflect on best practices, lessons and progress on the journey to ending older age inequalities and changing negative narratives and stereotypes involving "old age."
In the case of the Optiven Group, the organization through it’s foundation has taken steps to partner with like minded individuals and organizations as well as individuals to transform the society. The Chairman of the Optiven Foundation, Mr. George Wachiuri notes that, “we have a great responsibility as humans to safeguard the dignity of our parents and relatives in their old age because the same will be done to us.
The next generation will only improve on what they learn from the current generation – and the onus remains on us to ensure that we leave the world better than we found it”. His sentiments come as the foundation has this year been awarded for it’s engagement in empowering masses living with disability.
Through the Mobility that brings Smiles Campaign, the foundation has been at the forefront in identifying needy cases across the country and providing them with mobility by donating free wheel chairs. So far beneficiaries under the campaign are resident in Kisii, Kiambu, Nyeri, Machakos, and Loitoktok.
ABOVE: A beneficiary of the Mobility that Brings Smiles is all happy on receiving his wheelchair courtesy of Optiven Foundation
ABOUT THE OPTIVEN FOUNDATION
The Optiven Foundation is registered under societies rule 1968, it was registered on 30th May 2014. We work through donations and volunteer work. The founders have also authored books that all the proceeds from the sales goes directly to the foundation. The founders also give service to the community; this includes youth Motivation, business talks, advisory to investment groups for volunteer tokens. All these tokens are credited to the foundation in order to further the foundation goals and aspirations.
To be a part of the transformation, send your contribution of any amount to MPESA Paybill 898630.
For more information of the Optiven Foundation please call us on 0718 776033