Last 20th of July our foundation visited Kisumu for 11 days, the third largest city in Kenya, which meets Victoria Lake for business review on old people living alone and disabled. July, the season of scorching weather in Korea, but in Kenya it is quite cold, and in cities with high altitudes like Nairobi electric blankets are must item. Kisumu region includes Victoria Lake the 3rd largest lake in the world was really hot even though it was winter with full of humidity covered air and temperature of 30 ℃, so we thought ‘Africa is Africa’
Kenya went through the British colonial period from1895 for 60 years. After independence in 1963, Kenya was so rapidly developed called the hub of East Africa, but on the hidden part of the story, there have been many obstacles such as corruption, tribal conflicts, terrorism. And these are still affecting the whole country. We met neighbors, senior people living alone, and disabled who were in the shadow of development.
According to the classification of International development cooperation, women, the disabled, seniors, and minority are categorized as weak level. Among them, severely disabled who cannot control their movements or seniors living alone, were the weakest level. Even though, Kenya government already supports basic livelihood security or conducts cash support program of 2,000ksh ($20) for welfare promotion, the governments were in difficult situation because of insufficiency in administration and irregular budget supply.
In order to plan effective social warfare programs, our foundation visited several villages in Kisumu and listened to dozens of real stories. We wanted to find good program idea and talked to several leaders of various organizations such as village headman, chairman women, youth representative, disabled representative, social worker, religious leader, and civil servant. While talking, they actively made opinions to represent neighbors and advocate weak people, that we thought they were already true leader.
After then, we visited village to find senior people living alone and disabled family with community mobilizer. Community mobilizer is a person who connects needy people to external resources. Also they voluntarily make community plan and carry it out to bring on change of village. When on home visits, we necessarily needed community mobilizer and people good at field information. Because there were little we knew about Kisumu and elderly people living alone or disabled were mostly left at home with no one looking after.
We had met elderly people living alone without any family. Even few, having family, are struggling to feed their disabled family or grandchildren.
After home visit, we gave them biscuits and beverages to appreciate their invitations, an elder lady looked so touched and so happy. Because actually it was her first food on the second day and those foods were items she couldn’t afford.
Senior citizens who are able to walk sell nuts or corn in the market or get their foods from town events such as funerals or wedding ceremonies. Others like sick and old or unable to work for living, were in difficult situation to maintain basic lives without supports.
For disability, we had a meeting for severe disabilities. We met severely disabled people and their situation was worse, they couldn’t control their bodies without others. During daytime their parents were busy working away from them, which they were just left home alone. The only thing they managed to was on the bed, just lying all the day.
The biggest routine of severely disabled people is staying inside their earthen houses, just looking at the ceiling. They practically remained in one position. The weather is so hot that they are always suffered from bedsore. A man there, 30 years old, had been living that way for whole his life.
It broke our heart to witness the miserable truth, even feeling sorry for that we have control of our body. Sometimes we felt resentful their families neglect them but we realized that they were doing their best for them. Although the families just let them indoor, all the families would never fail to take charge of them.
We will support for senior citizens living alone and severe disabilities. Also there will be an idea about a network program to take care of them.
Miral welfare foundation, challenging for the sake of people in need and for true inclusion. We ask for your heart and support for new hope.