Do you know that there is a high rate of elder abuse in the country? Our findings from a report that will be published soon, reveal that most elder abuse takes place in the home and perpetrators are mostly family members who are also their care givers?
On 29 October 2019, in commemoration of the United Nation’s International Day of Older Persons, Dewdrop Foundation (DDF) organized a walk-a-thon at Michael Okpara Square, Enugu state, to raise awareness on the importance of elder protection, care and criminalizing elder abuse. The theme of the day was Ageing Is A Blessing. Participating at the event were 100 elderly persons (50 men and 50 women), His Excellency the Executive Governor of Enugu State, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Lawrence Ugwuanyi, wife of the former Deputy Governor of Enugu State, Her Excellency Mrs Ada Onyebuchi, the Hon. Commissioner for Gender Affairs and Social Development and 17 delegates from the Ministry of Gender Affairs and Social Development, the Deputy Majority Leader of the Enugu State House of Assembly, Hon. Onyinye Mary Ugwu, representatives from Little Sisters of the Poor elderly home, CGE Africa, Enugu State Tourism Board, Federal Road Safety Commission, Lift Saxum, Women in Agriculture Enugu State, community mobilizers and the DDF team.
DDF, in partnership with Centre for Gender Economics Africa (CGE-Africa), is currently implementing an Oxfam-Voice funded project on curtailing elder abuse in 11 communities in Enugu State, from July 2019 – December 2020. The project seeks to reduce the incidence of physical, verbal, financial or psychological violence against elderly persons by strengthening their voices through dialogue and engagement; improving the health and social welfare of the elderly; promoting the acceptance of the elderly within the community; empowerment through capacity development and skills acquisition on elder care. CGE Africa and DDF in partnership with State and local stakeholders have been raising awareness in the State about the need to curtail elder abuse in the State as well as provide policies that criminalize elder abuse.
In her welcome address, the Executive Director of Dewdrop Foundation, Mrs. Agatha Nnaji, highlighted the importance of caring for elderly people in our homes and communities. She acknowledged the presence of the Seenagers (older persosn from 60 years and above) from the 11 project communities, and introduced the Honourable Commissioner for Gender Affairs and Social Development, to kick off the Walk.
While stopping at the Enugu State House of Assembly, the group was received by the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Uche Ogbu (representing the Speaker) and other members of the House. Hon. Peace Nnaji, The Commissioner for Gender Affairs and Social Development, in a brief address stated the aim of the visit – the support of the Assembly to endorse and pass into law a Bill on criminalizing elder abuse in the state, which she presented in a policy brief.
Receiving the Policy Brief, the Deputy Speaker Hon. Uche Ogbu, praised Mrs. Agatha Nnaji on her works through the Foundation stating that, “it is a thing of joy and great achievement knowing that people still care for the elderly people because sooner or later everyone will grow old and will eventually benefit from the welfare”. He received the Policy Brief and promised that it would not be thrown under the carpet.
The team proceeded to the Lion Building at the Enugu State Government House, where they were received by the Enugu State Governor, His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Lawrence Ugwuanyi. In her remarks, Hon. Peace Nnaji informed members of the group that His Excellency has already included the care of elderly people in the state, in the budget. Buttressing her point, she stated that the Wife of the Governor has been ensuring that elderly people were well cared for and plans were underway for a leisure centre to be built for elders.
Responding, Mrs Nnaji disclosed that the Foundation has discovered various kinds of abuses on the elderly people from its field work in the communities, ranging from neglect, stealing from them, youths calling them vile names and many more. In this regard, and in partnership with the community leaders, safe spaces were being provided where the elderly persons can socialise with each other while their family members go about their daily businesses and can take them back home at the end of the day. She also mentioned that the Foundation would provide professional training for Caregivers from the target communities on Eldercare.
Thereafter, Mrs. Nnaji presented a copy of the Policy Brief to the Executive Governor, who endorsed the Policy Brief and pledged his full support to the project.