Helping Umlazi’s elderly celebrate Mandela Day
Food, song and dance were part of the festivities for Umlazi senior citizens when UKZN’s HIV Pathogenesis Programme (HPP) visited Bahle Help the Aged Care Centre to celebrate Mandela Day 2015.
With the help of colleagues from K-RITH and in line with its ‘Sponsor-A-granny’ motto, HPP’s Social Committee exceeded its target of R4 000, raising an impressive R6 700 which made the day a resounding success.
The elderly were treated to lunch, massages and received gift packs including blankets, cooler bags and much-appreciated rechargeable lights for their homes.
Giving back to this community was a collective of HPP scientists, researchers, students and the community advisory body. HPP clinic staffs were also stationed at the centre doing routine health evaluations for weight, blood pressure, HIV and referrals.
HPP PhD candidate, Mr Katlego Sojane, said previously HPP had visited a children’s home as part of its on-going community projects with the youth, so this year they decided to target the elderly. ‘Ideally people set aside 67 minutes to do good on this day but we decided to spend much longer here,’ said Sojane.
The aged flock to the centre on a daily basis for meaningful engagement including business and recreational activities such as music, art, sewing, baking, cooking, gardening, sports and to participate in awareness campaigns.
‘They’re very involved and recently won the Golden Games,’ said Chairperson, Mrs Phumelele Mtshali.
Gogo Thembi Chili (60) said she loved the centre because it kept them active. ‘We gym, bake and we’re taken care of in many ways,’ she said.
‘Walking to the centre gives us exercise and helps us shed a bit of weight,’ Gogo Catherine Dlamini (77) chuckled. She said she enjoyed engaging with the youth who came to volunteer at the centre.
‘It’s a beautiful day,’ said Mr Simon Madondo (71) who said he was happy to see more men present at the centre during the HPP visit.
‘It’s great to be involved in community outreach because most of the time we just do research, said prolific Scientific Director of HPP, Professor Thumbi Ndung'u. He said coming into a community, learning about the people’s lives and the challenges they faced was always insightful. ‘It is very important to give them a reason to smile,’ Ndung'u added.