by Lashawna Griffith
As Senior Citizens’ Month opens here Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs Cynthia Forde is appealing to Barbadians to show greater respect for the elderly.
Speaking at the launch of activities and celebrations marking the 38th anniversary of the National Assistance Board (NAB) at the St Bartholomew Anglican Church this morning, Forde said the nation’s senior citizens were “ the backbone” upon which Barbados was built and they were therefore deserving of more care and respect.
“ I often say, how is it though that we Barbadians say that we are so Christian sometimes and we love God who we cannot see but our fore parents who we can see and touch, our guardians and others, we don’t like them because they are not as tidy as before, they do not remember to close the window, all these little negatives …instead of [showing] the love of God that should be permeating in our society.”
She said it was for this reason that workers of the Home Help department of the NAB should be praised for their outstanding work with the elderly.
Noting that the workers were performing well with little or no credit, she maintained they deserved more appreciation from families and the wider society.
“Many Barbadians do not know what the home help have to endure on a daily basis, some of them [care for ] three or four clients a day. Some of them have to take the bus to get from one village to the next. Some of them go into homes of persons with Alzheimer’s and they accuse them for everything under the sun and people see them and think it is an easy job but they do not understand the extent [to which they work],” Forde said.
“ I will take my hat off to those women who work every day to bring a level of comfort, cleanliness and joy to the elderly people of Barbados who are the heart of this society… ,” she said.
The Minister urged the organization to champion its workers and achievements.
“Unless your team go out there and trumpet what your organization is doing then Barbadians will never understand. Almost every single person in here has a senior person in their life and we see how they change and they forget the days of the weeks and the numbers… and we know it and we must extend our gratitude to these hardworking women who traverse the streets every day,” she added.
Priest in Charge of St Bartholomew Anglican Church Ian Claridge endorsed the Minister’s call for society to appreciate the elderly, as he described age as a beautiful thing.
“We are to value these among us who have stood the test of time… We have to live as an example and recognize the consistency of God’s love. What does this have to do with senior citizens and growing old? It says to us that age is authentic, age is genuine, age is valuable. Yes, as we all approach it I pray that we recognize that age is indeed beautiful,” he told the congregation.
During the special service, the church presented an award to Mary Magdalene Callender for her outstanding work as part of its celebrations to mark Senior Citizen Month. (LG)