Tuesday, 24 December 2013

From Malawi to Africa: Homes for the elderly, places of hope and intergenerational solidarity

This past December 12th, in the context of the visit to the wonderful and lively initiatives of Malawi by Andrea Riccardi, founder of the Community of Sant’Egidio, the first nursing home for the elderly was inaugurated at Blantyre. Others are expected to be built in Africa in the coming
months.
The home of Blantyre for now will host three single elderly women, offering them not only the certainty of a shelter but also the warmth of a new family, that of the Community of Malawi.
The inauguration of the home was celebrated at the presence of the Minister for Disabilities and the Elderly who emphasized in his speech the importance of the service to the elderly that Sant’Egidio performs in that country. His presence signaled the commitment of the government to support the cultural wager that the Community intends to live in Malawi and in all of Africa.
Sant’Egidio hopes that the entire continent will experience a wave of sympathy for and companionship with the world of the elderly. Not always, not even in Africa, does old age inspire respect. Sometimes a long life is viewed as a theft at the expense of others, in particular of the younger ones, thus the terrible accusations of witchcraft and the risk or occurrence of lynchings. But even in the absence of these excesses, the elderly, and especially those that are alone, have little protection and few prospects as they confront the rapid
evolution of conditions in Africa.
We need to build bridges between generations, we need to look at the future close up. This is the effort that the African communities of Sant’Egidio are living. The awareness is deepening that the elderly are a significant social and human problem that must be addressed. There is a clearer understanding of the need for a larger network of support and sensitization.
That is why the nursing home of Blantyre is only the first, the first of a series of spaces that are open to hope and intergenerational solidarity. Already, other homes are being designed for Malawi, Mozambique, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.         

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