By Simba Smp. Welcome to the first ever newsletter from our charity, the pioneering Simil Senior Life (SSL). First and foremost, we are proud to bring a complete revolution to the welfare of senior citizens in Uganda. Our main objective is to be the number one charity of its kind in Africa, so the hard work starts now. In a nut shell our mission is to bring smiles to the older generation in a variety of ways. In context we are there to care for the abandoned elders, provide respite to the homeless, combat loneliness, offer exercise classes, create a social platform to interact with other older people, supplement a healthy diet and generally help the custodians of our history to enjoy a life of their choice. Indeed, some may argue that talking is always easier than practice but there is reason to thwart those doubts. The remarkable progress we have achieved in a short space of time and the response from the communities where we operate certainly shows we are heading in the right direction.
Unlike in most western countries where there is a national support system for the vulnerable members of society, in Uganda none of that exist. That means an elderly person has to either be independently sufficient or have to rely on family support. But there are too many reasons why older people end up destitute, lonely and/or vulnerable. For example, it is common knowledge that a significant number of the population was affected by the AIDS pandemic of the 90’s and some current elder citizens lost children who could have been their breadwinners. In most cases these older people were left with the extra burden of looking after their orphaned grand-children which obviously brought an extra drain of finances. Another example which is common is of grown children moving on with their lives and abandoning their parents or grandparents to fend for themselves. Then there is the general poverty caused by not having any employment or savings from their youthful days. Too many reasons to mention.
Earlier this year, just before we opened our doors to the first beneficiaries of our scheme, we went on a countrywide research trying to establish the exact state of this crisis. Along the way we encountered too many disturbing stories from older citizens which should shame every one of us, or more particularly those who have deliberately abandoned their mothers or grandparents. The scope of the matter was wide, challenging and at times traumatising. We discovered disturbing situations faced by elders ranging from lack of accommodation, nowhere decent to sleep, abuse, no food for days, poor health with no care assistance and severe loneliness with some senior citizens spending weeks alone in the house without no one to talk to. This warranted an instant reaction to address the plight of our elders. Watch THE UGANDA RESEARCH
For starters we opened a centre in Karago, Fort Portal, for the elderly to meet-up, eat healthy food, interact, enjoy activities and share stories. The response to join was so overwhelming that within a couple of weeks we had to quickly add another centre. Not to mention that it was also quickly over-subscribed. We are now in the process of looking for other centres around the country as we slowly but surely embark on a mission to spread more centres around the country using this template.
Other than our official launch in June 2019, we do have other exciting programmes lined up which we are keeping under wraps for now. But to those senior citizens who are already lucky enough to be in the SSL family, they are in for a special treat this festive season. We are doing a special Christmas party for them as well as a catwalk event to spice it up and give them something to smile. Then deep in the year we are organising a massive launch event which will be spread over two days. We are planning to include a sponsored race to raise funds for the charity, entertainment from Ugandan household artists and an address by special envoys from the government. More updates coming soon.
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