By Sarah Namukisa
ENTEBBE – In any country, senior citizens are considered to be among the special interest groups, where the government has to protect and also take care for them where necessary.
However, this is not the case in Uganda where most of them decry living in alarming conditions. PML Daily has visited some of the country’s senior citizens and found them in worrying situations.
Bukirwa Nasula 82, resident of Bwebajja says she struggles to have a single meal and yet she is on medication, something medical experts say is affecting her health.
“Am sick, am on medication but I don’t eat as am recommended by doctors. I struggle to eat, because I have no one to provide me even a meal, and yet this medication, i need to eat first before taking them” Bukirwa said.
For Mariam Nasejje 86 years-old, resident of Kitende in Busiro South Constituency living with five grandchildren, told us that her and the grandchildren have spent days without food, adding that her job cannot sustain the family of six.
“For the past two days, I and my grandchildren have stayed without food and we may go for more days without eating anything again. This is because there is no one to provide for us.”
Nasejje is worried that once there is nothing done to change the situation elderlies are living in, they may meet their creator so soon.
“Look at our age, we don’t eat in time, sometimes we go without any meal. No proper medication, all those worry us, and this made me think that maybe God wants me to die,” she said.
Bukirwa and Nassejje both accused local leaders for not providing them with enough information about their funds which governments give the elderlies annually, saying sometimes their strings put on the funds which hardens them to get this money, and yet it’s their only hope.
“Chairpersons don’t tell us when this money comes, we just hear after the money is given away to some, but also the terms and conditions are also unfavorable to some of us. We don’t see properly and when we send our grandchildren and or our own daughters, they send them away without money,” Bukirwa adds
PML Daily also spoke to Bishop Ndagize John of Kaleo International Church, one of the churches cited by Ms. Bukirwa for helping the elderlies, and said that it is an obligation for churches to help whoever is in need.
“As church, we do choose types of people, neither falling their religions, we just find any person in need, and we give a hand, being an elderly, they are our parents and to the nation, and they’re the same people who gave birth to children who later become ministers in the church, so we could not leave them to suffer before us,” said Bishop Ndagize.
The government through the Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development, every month gives out a sum of Shs25000 to elderlies to help them to cater their small needs.
Mr. Frank Mugabe, the communication officer of the Ministry of Gender said, as the government they are working hard to ensure that the elderlies live happily.
Mugabe also promised to improve on the way information is disseminated so that there are no elderly left out when splashing notes in their pockets, urging those with visual and hearing problems to register people who could help them get their elderly share.