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October 5 2011 | CONAKRY, GUINEA

Conakry (Guinea) - A conference to celebrate the World Day for the Elderly: "Being older is a gift"

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The World Day of the elderly was established in 1990 by the United Nations and it is celebrated on 1st October. The Community of Conakry started visiting more than 100 elderly people living in the various districts of the capital since 2009, and organized a day of study on this occasion at the Palace of the People, entitled "Being older is a grace". It is the first time a day of reflection on the elderly takes place in Guinea.

Many local authorities attended the event: the President of the Economic and Social Council of the Government, delegations of the Ministry of Social Affairs and of the Promotion of Women and Children's rights.

There were also several associations, including the Women helping elderly people victims of war and violence. There were more than 200 people, including many older men and women. Many local radio stations broadcasted the conference live..

In her opening, Elisabeth Sagno, on behalf of the Community, underlined the need to acknowledge this new and complex situation. Urbanization has moved thousands of elderly people from the villages, who are now living without rights and without health care. But above all, the elderly are relegated to the margins of society, they are often left on their own, sometimes viewed with suspicion or accused of witchcraft.

The friendship with the elderly is an important way to build a more just and more humane society. "The elderly of today are a reflection of what each of us will be tomorrow."

L’amicizia con gli anziani è una via importante per costruire una società più giusta e più umana. “Gli anziani di oggi sono lo specchio di ciò che ognuno di noi sarà domani”.

Raymond, a 75 year-old man, who is sick and excluded by the pension scheme, and lives by selling cigarettes on the street, asked to observe a minute of silence to remember all those elderly who die alone. Angeline, a teenager of the Community of 16 years, described the joy of being able to regularly visit the elderly and listening to them.

Even the addresses of the authorities stressed the beauty and novelty of this friendship the Community promotes, and they emphasized particularly the need to restore the rights and dignity of the elderly.

The day ended with the projection of photos of friendship with the elderly and with a lively party. 



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