Daveyton elderly given succour

We find 66-year-old Jane Khumalo holding tightly to her kitchen door while a clutch of scrawny chicks scurries past her bare feet to peck for nibbles on the floor.

She winces with each step from the sore on her foot and a burn on her sole, which she sustained when she stepped on a hot two-plate stove that she keeps on the floor for cooking and warmth. The two skirts she is wearing are soiled.

Khumalo is diabetic and lives with her son and her grandson in Mandela Ext 21 in Etwatwa, near Daveyton, in Ekurhuleni.

It is people like Khumalo who inspired 22 women in the area to come together and provide assistance to the elderly who are in desperate need of support in their daily lives.

Lindiwe Yeni says they were aware of an elderly woman who was locked in a house the whole day because there was no one to look after her when her child went to work.

“Some live alone, with no family or support system to assist them. In other families you find a woman who is bed-ridden and only has her son or grandson to look after her,” she said. “Others have been abandoned and neglected.  It broke my heart. We thought, ‘what can we do to assist them?’”

She says last year she and a group of women in her neighbourhood, which covers ward 66 and 67, started contributing R20 each week to buy food to cook a warm meal for the elderly they had identified in their area.

“We also get assistance from our family members and some family members of the elderly we assist,” said Ncendiswa Mqungquthu, who is a trained caregiver, adding that they have about 16 senior citizens who they visit each week.

“We bath them, we clean for them and also take them for their clinic and hospital appointments. We ensure that they take their medication as prescribed by the doctors.

“I’m young, healthy and unemployed, so I thought why not help my community? I also have a grandmother, it could have been her in this situation.”

Sonto Maphanga says they come together at a house a few doors away from Yeni’s home, where they cook the meals and teach the elderly sewing, knitting, and arts and crafts.

Until recently the group was using a local church.

The women have big plans for their community. They have registered as non-profit organisation, Siyanqoba Community Care Centre, and say they want to convert the house they use   into a home for the elderly.

“We don’t have an old age home here in Etwatwa. Some of the elderly we help need to be in a place of care,” said Yeni.

Walter Skhosana is grateful for the support the women give him and his mother Nesta. They bath her and ensure that she does not miss her clinic and hospital visits.

Nesta, 65, has difficulty moving and her hearing is also getting poorer. Having suffered a stroke, which left her right hand paralysed, Nesta relies on Walter for assistance.

“I’m so thankful for their help. It is something that I would not be able to do. I do everything in the house, but this…” he said.


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