Lira’s elderly resort to begging

Thursday August 15 2019

Women beg in Lira Town last w

Women beg in Lira Town last week. PHOTO BY FRANK JEAN OKOT 


Lira- Ms Catherine Awor, 80, sits on one of the busy streets in Lira Town hoping to get a penny from sympathetic passersby to make ends meet.
“I wake up early every day to come here and beg for money since all my relatives have abandoned me,” she says.

This is the daily routine for the 80-year-old and a dozen other elderly people in the same predicament.
“Before the [Joseph] Kony war, the elderly were treated as important people in society but now, the young ones do not value us anymore. Younger and more able-bodied members of society who might have helped in the past say they have problems of their own,” Ms Awor says.

At the peak of the two-decade Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) insurgency, nearly two million people in the northern region were displaced.
Ms Awor survived the war when she fled to Lira Town and returned to her home in Otuke District in 2009.

However, life became unbearable for the widow after her family members neglected her, forcing her to return to Lira Town.
Ms Florence Ocen, who lost her husband during the LRA war, says she is struggling to educate her four children.
“When I ran to a charity organisation for help, there was no hope there,” she says.

Mr Jacob Ocen, the Lango Cultural Foundation spokesperson, on Tuesday said efforts are being made at the community level to educate people about the importance of taking care of the elderly.

Currently, government supports them under the Social Assistance Grants for Empowerment programme. It gives a monthly stipend of Shs25,000 to senior citizens above 65 years. Beneficiaries spend the monthly allowance on buying food, healthcare and education of their grandchildren.