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Celebrating Elderly Day
The 3rd of November 2012 saw the Ministry of Local Government; through the Department of Social Services commemorate The International Day of the Elderly. The well-attended event was characterized by the attendance of the Minister of Local Government, Hon. P. L. Siele, The Minister of Infrastructure, Science and Technology, Hon. J. Swartz, The Permanent Secretary of Local Government, Mr. B. Khumomatlhare, Kgosi Lekgothu, other government officials and elderly people from the Ghanzi region.

This year’s commemoration was held under the theme, “Longevity, shaping the future.” When officiating at this well-attended event, Hon. Siele noted that, “this theme challenges us as a nation, to ensure that the elderly are well taken care of, so that they can live a long and fulfilling lives, and this can only be accomplished if we cherish them, care for them and do not make them feel like they are a burden to us.”

To augment this, Hon. Siele availed that, The People’s Ministry intends to commemorate this day annually in strategic areas in order to sensitize the public on the existence of old people, their importance, the challenges they face as well as their experiences. Hon. Siele went on to note that, “as a nation we must acknowledge that older people are vibrant and essential contributors to the development and stability of our society, and more can still be done to utilize their wisdom and knowledge for nation building ‘botho’, self-reliance, development and unity, hence the Setswana saying “letlhako le lesha le agelwa mo go le legologolo.”

With regard to the challenges that the elderly face across Botswana, Hon. Siele pointed that the elderly face challenges of poverty, low education levels, poor housing, and poor social security and protection. Despite these challenges, older persons have contributed to building our societies in the past and continue to do so.

Another major challenge that was outlined by Hon. Siele is that of the isolation of the elderly, relating to their children who grow up and move away from home. Furthermore, Hon. Siele noted that this is a cause of concern, as this creates a challenge for government to look after such abandoned elders. In addition, Hon. Siele revealed that, “government alone cannot shoulder the responsibility of providing for the elderly, as such, I therefore wish to appeal to the private sector, NGOs, the community and other partners to assist government in its efforts to develop the elderly policy and provision of services.”

Also in attendance was a representative from UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) who noted that, “older people play a vital role in society as they contribute both financially and in many ways that are not measured in economic terms.” For his part, population ageing is cause for celebration as it is one of the humanitarian greatest achievements.

In conclusion, Hon. Siele applauded the elderly persons who were present in Botswana, particularly those who were present at this event to celebrate this day by saying, “may I also congratulate the centurions amongst us today and wish them long life.”




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