Being elderly or disabled in a place where there is no state pension or any kind of benefits system can be very tough. Add to that an economic climate that leaves over 90% of the working-age population unemployed and you can experience a life that is held tightly in the grip of severe poverty.
Those of us in the UK reading this may begrudge having to pay for our prescriptions unless we qualify for free ones, but what would it be like to grow old in a place that was miles away from any chemist and even then, ‘ordinary’ painkillers such as paracetamol were not available or far too costly to afford. That however is the reality for many elderly people living in the poorest places in Africa. With the onset of conditions such as arthritis and the wearing out of hips and knees, poor eyesight or hearing, life goes from being tough to extremely tough.
We help fund work in Bulawayo which provides assistance to elderly people living in some of the poorest communities in and around the city. With regular home visits to the sick and infirm, the Hearts of Love team provide invaluable support to people who, because of the high mortality rates in the country, often have no family left alive who can help them. It is not unusual to meet elderly people who have out-lived all their own children.