Sunshine Foundation feasts the elderly at Easter party
According to the President of the Foundation, Barrister Rose Odiete, for the vulnerable old people in Nigeria to enjoy social benefits, cares and support, there is need for more favourable policies and legislation by the government.
Speaking last Monday at the Sunshine Foundation Easter Party for the elderly in Lagos State, to educate the older generation on exceptional health tips, Odiete stressed that the federal government has a role to play in promoting the welfare of the older people in the society.
Founded 26 years ago by late May Ellen Mofe-Damijo (MEE), frontline journalist and publisher of Classique Magazine, the foundation runs two major programmes annually which are Easter party for the elders and annual seminar, which has been sustained over the past 26 years as part of its dream of giving back to the society.
It usually employs these fora to invite medical doctors and health practitioners to enlighten the elderly on how to take care of themselves, live and age gracefully.
According to Odiete: “While we already have some NGOs promoting the cause, government is expected to formulate policies and put certain laws into the society that will benefit the older generation.”
She stressed that once people have lived to the age of 60 years and above serving the society in whatever form and capacity, the society should be able to give back to them.
She cited other countries of the world where people above 60 years enjoy free healthcare services, access to accommodation among other benefits, adding that, “definitely, all these are the things our government should provide for the old people.”
Beyond the government’s role in seeing to the welfare of old people, Odiete stated that the society should wake up to the consciousness of caring for the vulnerable in the society who, according to her, include the very young, women and the elderly.
“For the annual seminar, we have identified various health challenges facing the old people in our society and we have created an interface between the elderly and health experts to proffer solutions.
“We also have our pipe dream, which is to establish an elderly centre but this has not really seen the light of day because it requires a large sum of money and for this we need assistance.
We are, however, hoping that in the nearest future, we would have people who will support us to actualise our dream of building the elderly centre”, she explained.
While she identified funding as a major challenge facing the foundation, Odiete appreciated the efforts of those who have been supporting its programmes.
Three associations of elders joined the Sunshine Foundation during the Easter, namely Surulere Elders Forum, Care Organisation Welfare for the Aged People and Nigerian Union of Pensioners, Lagos.
In his remark, chairman, Nigerian Union of Pensioners, Comrade Sulaiman Muhammed, commended the foundation for doing its best to take care of old people when the society seems to have nothing in place for them.
Comrade Muhammed called on the government to emulate the foundation and its initiatives to support retirees who have served the state in different capacities “but now are not getting any benefits from the government and the system they have served.”
He lamented government’s failure in paying the retirees regularly the “arrears of arrears” of ex-workers, stating that the there’s currently a backlog of at least 10-years arrears to be paid by the government.