As the population of persons 65 years and older grows, society needs to be prepared to serve the elderly, the trail blazers of our time. Nowadays, many old people are neglected or forgotten by their children and support systems as society moves away from being more family centric. This means volunteers play an important role in caring for the varying needs of the elderly, including not only spiritual concerns, but health and mobility issues, emotional needs, and other practical concerns of daily life.
In celebration of Nelson Mandela International Day, which is commemorated annually across the globe on 18 July, the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Windhoek used its #Time2Serve the elderly of the Katutura Old People’s Home. The team aimed to provide companionship and support to a generation which is commonly neglected and to provide space for this generation to be able to share their stories and be heard.
The UNIC Windhoek team showed a short clip of Madiba in which he expressed his gratitude to all who celebrate and take part in highlighting the importance of serving humanity and in joining in promoting peace among ourselves and across the world.
During the informal dialogue session, the elderly addressed critical social issues of prejudice as well as intergroup conflict of the past. Through their own histories and unique autobiographies, they shared what they have learned from the challenges they faced in life.
Sitting and listening to one person after another share the story of how Mandela impacted their lives was quite profound. Although each individual had a unique story, they exhibited great respect for Madiba’s legacy and unilaterally agreed that Nelson Mandela helped transform Africa and the rest of the world into being a better place, especially South Africa and Namibia after post colonialism.
An elderly man articulated his story through which he discussed the humiliation he faced and how he was not valued as a human being because of pre-independence laws. He then said that Mandela was the hero of all heroes, as he suffered a lot, but he continued to give back to people.
The UNIC Windhoek team served the elderly scones and tea, and continued listening and celebrating the stories of the older generation through one-on-one interactions.
The 67 minutes UNIC Windhoek shared with the elderly was extremely joyous, as the team was inspired by each person’s stories and tributes to Mandela.
The members of the Katutura Old Age Home called upon the team to always involve them in outreach initiatives of such kind.