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June 9 2013

Friends of the elderly in Africa

From the blog “Viva gli anziani!” -

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Two letters from Congo and Cameroon tell about the Community’s friendship with the elderly

Thursday 6 June 2013


We received and published two letters that tell us about a few initiatives to improve the living conditions of the elderly in Africa, especially in Congo and Cameroon.

The first letter came from Uvira, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

"We started our friendship with the elderly in 2006 by visiting a group of 5 elderly people, who were guests of a structure of Caritas in Uvira.

These elderly people had left their villages on the hills because of the war and had not been accepted by their families in the city. They were living in a double poverty: material, owing to the lack of means of subsistence, but also a poverty of friendship, because they felt rejected by the family to whom they had contributed with their work.

The friendship with the people of the Community gave them back their smile and the wish to live. Thus we also noticed that many elderly people lived in the neighborhoods of the city, a little hidden, who beg on the roadside by day and return to their poor houses at night.

We started to visit them and the number grew to 19 friends. A new community of Sant'Egidio was born in the district of Kavimvira in 2009 and we began to visit the elderly also there. A group was quickly formed made of 17 elderly people (5 men and 12 women), who meet once a week to pray together with the community and to regain the strength of solidarity.

We helped an elderly couple to stay in their homes at Kavimvira who, in fact, had been accused of being 'sorcerers' in the neighborhood, an excuse to take possession of their home.

Unfortunately, this accusation is common and very dangerous. We alerted the police and decided to rent a house close to our homes, so that they could live more protected. Today their home is a reference for the other elders in the neighborhood who want to be protected. "

The second letter tells us about one of the interventions in Cameroon to improve hygiene and life conditions of the elderly.

 "Our elders’ life is valuable. The rainy season is approaching and the Community of Sant'Egidio continues its work within the project "hygiene for the elderly."

Mummy Mado is an old lady who, up to now, had been forced to defecate outdoors in the woods, because she had no toilets. We made a traditional WC for her with the help of our friends of the Community of Sant'Egidio, who dug the ditch needed to meet the hygienic needs of our elderly friend.

 Children and especially the elderly are the most defenceless victims of diseases caused by unhygienic conditions and, for that reason, our community wanted to meet this challenge and try to improve hygienic conditions before the rainy season. Mummy Mado thanked us with her face full of love, joy and words of blessing. "

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