Sunday, November 30, 2008

Isandla Paper is supporting the Ethembeni Old Age Home in Mdantsane

The cook at work always trying to prepare healthy meals

Some of the inhabitants of the home, mostly women

There are many who need frail care as well

Mrs. Pelisa Welemu, initiator and director of the home with some of the women
Isandla paper is supporting at the moment one charitable institution " The Ethembeni Old Age Home" in Mdantsane. We try to support the home on an on-going basis and by giving a certain percentage from our sales to this institution. We are hoping to increase our contribution in the future.
Mdantsane is the second largest township in South-Africa after Soweto and has been a disadvantaged community from the beginning of Apartheid. There is a population of more than 500.000. Estimates say that there are 60 % women and 40% men.
There is a high unemployment rate affecting mostly the youth and adult population.
55 % of the community are unemployed only 25 % are workers and the rest depend on child support, disability or old age grant which is given by the South-African government to alleviate poverty.
There were no institutions that took care of the elderly and in the whole of Mdantsane there existed no old age home facility.
The Ethembeni Old Age Home started as a non profit organisation in 2004 through the amazing initiative of a fantastic woman Mrs. Pelisa Welemu.
She started by cooking soup and sometimes lunch for the elderly in her community. At the beginning she visited the homes of the elderly and tried to help them by washing or feeding them.
After a while she contacted the Uniting Reformed Church in Mdantsane and they gave Mrs Welemu their unused mission house as a shelter for old and abandonned old people.
Beds and Linen were borrowed from those in the community who wanted and who could assist.
People started now staying in the house. This was the beginning of up to day the only old age home in Mdantsane.
After a while Pelisa could win the support of a doctor who agreed to visit the newly set up home on a monthly basis and do check-ups on the inhabitants. A nearby clinic also supports the home.
The home got some small donations and became gradually more recognized. Pelisa recruted volunteers for the home because more and more people applied to be taken in.
The home was run after a while solely with the old age grants that the elderly received and donated to the home so that Pelisa could take care of them.
These funds were used to pay burial societies, medical expenses, buying groceries and clothing for them.
In a conversation Mrs Welemu she said the following:
" The situation of the senior citizens in this country requires that they be taken care of. As we look at this, we discovered that abuse starts at home and ends up in the loan sharks. The chances of elderly people to have their freedom are minimized by exploitation, violence and insecurity.
This is when we identified the problems they are facing, some individuals were neglected because their children were suffering from HIV/Aids and this effected the elderly people emotionally. As we worked closer with them we further noticed that some were abused because of their pension grant.
Ethembeni Old Age home helped most families around as some elderly people were left alone while their children are at work and their grand children at school.
If someone that does not have a burial society, we make sure that he/she joins and we take the responsibilty and pay for it. The people are abused and neglected so they cannot afford a fee that other Old Age Home's charge because they need more money to add on to their pensions.
Our home only uses their grants to keep the home safe and working perfectly.
At the moment we have 15 residents, and more people want to stay but unfortunately we do not have enough space to accomodate them.
Pelisa says further:
Our Mission Statement is to provide services to improve the living conditions of the elderly people through our humanitarian goal which acts as our driving force, to encourage them to understand that they are human beings and must be respected too.
We want to create a home in which senior citizen's needs are met and their fundamental rights, balanced by individual responsibility and supported by a flexibel and dedicated staff. We are working hard to have an old age home building in our Township as we do not have one at the moment . We want to overcom the present situation where our elderly citizens are suffering and their lives are sometimes even in danger.
If you want to support this home I can put you into direct contact with Mrs Pelisa Welemu. Any help would be much appreciated.

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