New Zimbabwe.com

Lamentations Of The Neglected Elderly

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By Staff Reporter


AT the age of 102 years Blante Jamba is one man who knows life now has very little left to give.

But Jamba, even the little it ought to give appears to have been taken off, too, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Homeless, sickly, and almost entirely dependent on other people, Jamba has been condemned to living in an old people’s home since the age of 80.

His sad story starts with a journey he made from his Mozambique homeland to Zimbabwe to look for employment during the Rhodesian colonial era.

He got one at a farm, where he spent all his productive years, only for him to be discarded, without a pension, once old age prevented him from undertaking the arduous manual work.

This is how he ended up seeking refuge at Melfort Old People’s Home, some 60km east of Harare – where life is a boring routine of sleeping, basking in the sun, and waiting for a meal.

He is now the oldest of the 20 residents domiciled at people the care home.

While they have not had a single Covid-19 case there, the centre is the dwindling of food supplies that have made life even harder for the institution-bound elderly.

The situation is the same in all old people’s homes around the country.

Constitutionally, the government is mandated to provide about US$25 monthly for each person in a care home, but this has not been the case as the state pleads bankruptcy.

This left the welfare of these people in the hands of well-wishers, but the travel and work restrictions meant to control the spread of the coronavirus means very little has been coming their way.

Daniel Francis, the home’s administration manager said though they recorded zero infections at the institution, they were growing fears of malnutrition as food reserves were running dry.

“We are glad that both the staff and the old people have not been infected by Covid-19 but since we are an organisation that depends on donations, people were not able to come forward. There were a few, yes, but there are growing fears that the old people would suffer from malnutrition,” he said.

He said Covid-19 lockdown restrictions left them in a corner, but, however, expressed gratitude to Impala Car Rental which Saturday became one of the few organisations which remembered their plight and donated groceries and other materials.

Francis said the groceries, which included mealie-meal, rice, flour, and toiletries, would go a long way in alleviating the threat the home was facing.

“We want to thank the organisation for their love and kind because this is one of the major problems we were facing here. We would also like to take the opportunity to appeal to the corporate world for more assistance,” Francis said.

His words were also echoed by Joseph Bisent, one of the home’s most senior resident, who said: “Since I came to this old people’s home when I was in my 60s this is one of the kindest donations because it came when are faced with the coronavirus pandemic.”

Tracy Ngoma, Impala Car Rental brand and projects manager said the organisation through the Alfred Dondo Foundation would continue assisting people in need.

“As an organisation we will continue assisting those who are in need as part of cooperate social responsibility. I am glad that this home has showed us love and gratitude. This gesture will not only be for you but for several others out there who need help. We are doing this through the Alfred Dondo Foundation,” she said.

“We are in the hardest time because of the Covid-19 pandemic and, therefore, we need to assist as much as we can to alleviate problems caused by the pandemic,” she added.