Video: Simil Senior Life (SSL) conference at the Serena Hotel, Kampala..
Written by Simba Smp. As the unstoppable SSL charity empowerment train rattles forward, it is passing through uncharted territories and therefore new markers are being drawn. Just like a new train on a new track, it is bound to face teething problems but fortunately so far nothing has been strong enough to derail this celebrated train. As we approach our first year since opening our doors to the Ugandan elderly folk, we have seen progress and lots of smiles but no doubt the best is yet to come. Although we are yet to fully roll out our long-term plans, the reception and support for our charity to date has been overwhelming. In order to celebrate the journey so far, push the campaign message and share our vision, we are officially launching and fund raising on the 15th June 2019 at the Booma Grounds in Fort Portal. But let us take a brief look at the journey so far.
We started this empowerment journey by researching on the problems faced by elderly Ugandan people with a tour around the country and listening to their concerns first hand. From a fully informed point of view, we created a package for the charity based on the major concerns they had highlighted. We then opened our first centre in Karago, Fort Portal and remarkably we got oversubscribed by new members signing in within a week of opening. The immediate rush for our services not only confirmed that most senior citizens in Uganda are suffering silently but it also highlighted that perhaps the problem is bigger than what has been previously imagined. Those lucky enough to have signed up have enjoyed the SSL platform to socialize, share their problems, eat healthily, enjoy exercises that help to avert diseases such as dementia and also to generally get a respite from their personal problems. Literally speaking, SSL means happiness to them and they have been really appreciative and encouraged us not to stop. In the future we plan to do more in terms of making life easier for our senior citizens but for now, we will focus on establishing the template which has proved popular since first opening in June 2018.
Yes, there are many other charities in Uganda that donate to old people here and there but what differentiates us from others is that we go beyond simply donating by attending to the elderly as per their individual needs socially, physically and mentally. People seem not to realize that often, things start to go wrong for older people when they feel isolated. Some of our members have testified that before SSL came to their rescue, they would spend up to a week without talking to anyone, in some cases sleeping without eating and even failing to get up at times due to hunger and illness. Luckily SSL has come in with a register and we have regular follow ups for our registered members. Our members benefit from the fact that SSL initiatives are led by professional people who have genuine welfare experiences accumulated in various countries abroad. However, we at SSL acknowledge that we cannot solve this old people’s crisis alone so we welcome more players to join in. In other words, we are not driven by aggrandisement, so we call upon other interested parties to join forces with us for the good of Uganda’s senior citizens.
Above: Some of the pictures from the SSL Kampala pre-launch conference..
In line with our agenda of spreading the SSL message around the country, we recently held a pre-launch press conference in the capital Kampala in front of various media houses. The event was held at the Serena Hotel and was organized by Henhar Services Ltd under the tutelage of Harriet Sseremba. Henhar Services Ltd is one of our backers and no doubt the best event organisers in the country. We used the opportunity in front of the media to explain the model of our charity, the long-term plans and of course allowed the eager press to grill us. As expected, there were many questions from the journalists including on what measures we had in place to ensure we will succeed where a lot of charities have failed. Simples. SSL is a charity for the people, by the people to the people, meaning that everyone has a role to play and the secret is in working inclusively. Our Admin Director on the ground Edith Wamara then gave an insight on the successes and challenges so far. To further highlight our agenda the Project Director, Mildred Wamara emphasized that, “we are not here to give out money but rather mostly to help in physical and psychological matters”. Mildred who is also the linchpin in our health care strategies has vast experience in the health sector from her experience looking after old people and almost two decades as a nurse in the UK as well as a sprinkle of NGO nursing missions in Africa. At the end, The Managing Director Simba Smp wrapped up by emphasizing about the importance of giving back to the custodians of our history and reminding the relatively young attendees that everyone will get old at some point so it was important to help build structures that could also help them in the future.
Back to the hard work. Without fuss, without much pomp and fanfare, SSL are quietly moving mountains by changing people’s mind sets about how we treat our senior citizens. After operating just under a year, feedback from the community indicates that initial sceptics are turning into ardent SSL believers. There might still be others still yet to fully grasp the senior citizens’ welfare revolution but we believe the message will get tract soon. For now, we will take confidence from the old smiles we have observed from the beneficiaries themselves and the positive feedback from the community.
Finally, we are proud that the official launch date has been set and preparations are currently in full swing. We are urging those who genuinely care about old people, organizations that are willing to give back to the communities they serve and those in positions of influence to stop paying lip service to the old people’s crisis but to do something no matter how small and help make a difference. Indeed, the simplest way is by simply coming to support SSL’s official launch and fund raising on the 15th June 2019 at the Booma Grounds in Fort Portal, starting at 10am. The fun filled day will comprise of FUNDRAISING activities that includes a walk in Fort Portal by the senior citizens to highlight their plight, local organizations showcasing their products, the elderly people performing on stage and there will be a play area for the kids. We also have massive entertainment served by a line-up that includes some of Uganda’s heavy–weight artists. The show includes nationally recognized popular artists such as the inspirational Kigambo Araali who rose to fame with the song Ekirale and the energetic, man of the moment Eddy Kenzo who has wowed crowds around the world and put Uganda on the music world map.
Surely on the 15th June 2019, there is only one place to be to show your support of a good cause in Uganda. The money raised will help assure that the doors of our centres remain open and will definitely mean the world to our senior citizens, so let us make them feel deeply cherished. Besides, it is the event of the year in Fort Portal so don’t be left out!!
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TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!!