eldercare“I am as young as the most beautiful wish in my heart – 
and as old as all the unfulfilled longings in my life.”
– An elderly bushman’s answer when asked his age.

Lalmba’s elder care program began just a few years ago, when Lalmba’s founder Hugh Downey noted the plight of the ‘forgotten’ very old members of the Matoso community.  Many elderly widows and widowers who lost their children to AIDS are living without assistance in very poor conditions. Lying on the floor of their huts, sometimes without a mattress and with no ability to sit up or walk, the frail elderly in these communities arguably are in the most desperate situation of all.

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Traditionally, extended family would have taken care of their aging members; it’s the family equivalent of Social Security. But in today’s Africa, where HIV has destroyed the family structure, and grandparents are left to care for grandchildren, for some there is no one to care for them in their declining years. About 30% of older women in Sub-Saharan Africa head what are called “skip-generation households,” because the middle generation has died or is extremely sick.

 elderThere are very few non-profits addressing this crisis, and development policy debates on the world stage tend to marginalize issues relating to the elderly. The Millenium Development goals focus primarily on women and children.

Lalmba is trying to make a difference for the elderly where we work in Kenya. We provide some modest assistance to those ailing elderly who lack family with resources to assist them: a bar of soap, a mattress and blanket, some food supplies, a chair when needed, and periodic visits from our medical professionals to evaluate their health and provide treatment.  Our goal is to provide those ‘forgotten’ members of a needy community with some modest comforts and dignity in their final years.

 

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