In an effort to give succuor to the elderly and the less privileged mostly in Ikot Ekpo/Ikot Omin community of Calabar during this festive season, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Blessed End Care Initiative, has feted and provided healthcare services to the senior citizens.
Speaking with our reporter at the Ikot Ekpo community of Calabar metropolis where the organisation gathered the aged for the programme, Mrs Victoria Nelson, Blessed End Care Coordinator, said she was moved to close her bank account to realize the mission since no one seemed to care about the welfare and health condition of the aged this festive season.
She said, “I thank God for giving my colleague and I the ability to embark on this humanitarian work of feeding the elderly and the less privileged in our society. This year is just the second edition of this mission. I have been having this passion for the elderly especially when I see them on the Streets dejected, beggarly and struggling with life to survive the hard economy. To me there are not supposed to pass through this.
“I say so because in saner climes, the government takes care of the senior citizens because it is a blessing to live to an old age. The government could even sent some sort of palliatives and little tokens to them but those things do not get to them because some wicked people hijack the items.
“Many of our senior citizens go to bed with empty stomach. Many of them, who now look up to the society, particularly during festive seasons like Christmas and Easter periods, for assistance, do not usually get the type of help they want.
“We went on a visitation the other day and many of them were crying saying they did not know people could remember them. Some of them told us that people refused to associate with them because they are old, and were even praying for death to take them away. We felt very emotional.
“This is what is driving the mission. Initially, people I discussed with discouraged me saying there is no policy on aging in Nigeria but I decided to go alone with a few of my friends who bought into this vision. We started it last year and had done all necessary registration with the government.
“We are carrying out this mission solely from our packets. Apart from feeding as many as they can, we give them hand packs containing rice, tin tomatoes, maggi cubes, beans, salt, toiletries amongst other items. I appeal to our government to partner with us and let us together give a lifeline to our elderly and the less privileged.
“As we speak, I have emptied everything I had in my bank account to make sure these elderly ones also feel happy and my friends and I shall continue to do this as long as God gives us grace.”
She disclosed that apart from giving the aged food items and making efforts to feed them at least one every three months, Blessed End Care Initiative offers other services like healthcare checks and provision of some basic medication/treatment, homecare services with at least someone to visit the aged occasionally to give them a sense of belonging.
“Since there is a policy on aging now in our country, the needs of the elderly should be a priority. It is not a crime to be old and someone does not force old age on him/herself and as such they should be looked after.
“What preserves the elderly and makes them live a bit longer is when they know there is someone there for them. When they are neglected and branded witches and ostracized, it makes them die fast and we should not forget that no one stays young forever.”
Also speaking, a medical doctor, Dr Daniel Okwoche of the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, who was on ground to attend to health need of the teeming crowd of the aged and less privileged at the event, said “this is filling the gap of what the government should do for its senior citizens.”