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dignity for older persons - Interview with Adonis Faifi, Programme
Officer, Help Age
Makoni Muchemwa, Kubatana.net
March 15, 2012
Inside/Out with Adonis Faifi
View audio file details
you tell me the history of Help Age in Zimbabwe?
Age Zimbabwe is a charity organisation that was formed in 1989.
It works with, and for older persons throughout Zimbabwe. When we
say older person we are talking about men and women who are 60 years
areas do you work in?
We are into quite a number of areas. We are in food security, health,
social protection, water, sanitation and hygiene, emergencies and
advocacy. When I talk of food security, our intention as Help Age
Zimbabwe is to restore or give dignity back to older persons. For
example we give seeds with the intention that older persons should
be able to produce their own food. We also give farming implements
and carry out trainings in new technologies in farming.
to health, you know the definition of older person here in Zimbabwe
we use sixty years and above, and you know ageing comes with certain
conditions or ailments. Where we can we give medications. We assist
people to access medical attention from various sources. We advocate
on issues that come with age such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
Related to health is HIV/AIDS. While Zimbabwe is celebrating that
the prevalence is on a downward trend, the impact of caring for
orphans and vulnerable children on older persons is actually increasing.
We carry out awareness so that older persons know what it is we
are talking about when we say HIV or AIDS, how it can be prevented,
how it is spread. You find that 60% of orphans and vulnerable children
are under the car of older persons. Some might be HIV infected so
they need to know how to care for them. We assist in the care by
paying school fees and providing education support.
sanitation and hygiene, we provide water by drilling new boreholes
in communities where we work with older person. We also rehabilitate
existing boreholes. We run health and hygiene awareness campaigns.
We also construct toilets within homesteads and provide facilities
for them to wash their hands.
In 2000, during
the land resettlement programme we had older persons who were working
on farms and during that process a number of people lost employment.
Even though there are now new players in the farming sector, by
virtue of their age, older persons can no longer be employed. Quite
a number of them have remained vulnerable. So we came up with some
programmes where we built some housing units for them and their
families. We started some irrigation schemes so that they could
sustain themselves and we put up hygiene structures such as boreholes
Lastly, we advocate
for the needs and rights of older persons. In Zimbabwe older persons
are one of the most vulnerable groups. But unlike the others they
are not covered by legislation. We have a bill that was put in place
in 2002 and we are engaging government in having it put before parliament.
regard to the Bill you are advocating with government, what have
you seen is lacking in the policy environment?
Since 2002 up to now is that it is still a Bill. In my view, what
is lacking is possibly commitment from government to come up with
this legislation. Recently I was happy as we were advised that it
had passed through Cabinet, now it's sitting in Parliament
about to be debated. When we prepared this Bill we had a lot of
issues that we wanted covered. What is key was the introduction
of a universal pension for older persons. This would cover all these
issues of older persons. Be it food security, or health or HIV/AIDS.
They would receive something that would be able to assist them.
Manager, what would you say have been some of Help Age's success
I'll talk about the International Day. Initially we were talking
about the issues that affect older persons to the key stakeholders.
For the past three or four years we developed a new campaign called
'ADA - Age Demands Action'. This is where the
older persons themselves come up with the issues affecting them
and they will present these issue to key ministries. For example
the Department of Labour and Social Welfare, the Ministry of Health
and Child Welfare, Ministry of Justice and local authorities. They
would present those issues with the view of getting some response.
I am happy to say when we invited these ministries; the key persons
would come to such fora. You know having a platform where you able
to bring the older persons and decision makers together was a key
success. Where we operate from in the grass roots, let me speak
specifically of Zvishavane, we have what we call OPC or Older Persons
Committees. We implement all the programmes that we do through the
OPCs, from the selection of the beneficiaries to the verification.
So they are able to pick the most vulnerable in their communities.
We took this further to forming what is called 'Champions
in Ageing' people who have been trained in ageing issues so
that they are able to advocate and speak with one voice on behalf
of older persons.
Age International recently won the Hilton Humanitarian Award. How
does this affect you as Help Age Zimbabwe and how important is this
to your organisation?
As members of the Help Age network this is a great honour. It is
recognition of the work that the various Help Age's have been
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