What you need to know:
- The group are the most at risk population when it comes to Covid-19 infections.
After surviving two waves of the Covid-19 pandemic, 80 elderly persons were at the weekend taken for a holiday in Jinja.
The group that spent the night of Saturday at a five-star hotel in Jinja were picked from the areas of Nakawa, Naguru, and Luzira in Nakawa Division, Kampala.
Statistics from the local leaders of the aforementioned areas showed that more than five elderly persons had since succumbed to the deadly Covid-19 virus in their jurisdiction since last year.
“The feeling of being alone is the worst disease anyone of us can have. We have embraced them (elderly), and we have told them ‘we are here for you.’ That is a very big word, it means they no longer feel alone,” said Ms Juhi Barot, the founder of Leela Foundation, a charity organisation, while flagging off the elderly for the trip.
She added: “So this trip is to get them (elderly) out of that Covid stress that came with isolation and lack. The two years of Covid-19 have been tough years. So we want them to enjoy, have fun and bring back a smile on their faces. We are taking them to a five-star hotel and they are going to eat amazing food, have an amazing time, entertainment, and visit the Source of River Nile.”
One of the beneficiaries, Ms Eunice Harriet Nalugya, a resident of Luzira, said this was her first trip ever since her retirement from prisons service in 2012.
“I am so happy for this trip because ever since 2012 when I left prisons, I had never had an opportunity to go and get some fresh air and mingle with others,” a thrilled 77-year old Nalugya said.
Another beneficiary, Ms Florence Kyomugisha, 71, likened the elderly to children and that she was happy to be part of the selected 80.
“Our years are like for children and once you are told that you are going for a trip, we feel good and that is what I am feeling now,” Ms Kyomugisha, a resident of Naguru, said.
Speaking at the same event, the Indian ambassador to Uganda, Mr Shri A. Ajay Kumar, lauded Leela Foundation and the Tirupati group for helping the needy, especially the elderly through the tough Covid-19 period.
“I am very proud to stand here today to see that an NGO, run by an Indian family, has earned a place in the minds of Ugandans in a very short time of their existence,” Ambassador Kumar said.
“It’s not just taking photographs, its actually helping them live a good life at least a few days in their lives. This is a different kind of work which I have seen only Leela Foundation doing,” he added.
Rev Canon Aaron Mwesigwa, the director of religious affairs at the Directorate of Ethics in the Office of the President, in his remarks, urged the wealthy people to always help the needy.
“Being rich is not a bad thing; when you use your riches to help the poor people and the disadvantaged, God will bless you. Let me tell you, those of you who are rich but you are using your money to benefit yourselves, you will only get curses,” he cautioned.
According to the 2019 Uganda Bureau of Statistics report, elderly are about 1.7 million, constituting about 4.2 per cent of the population.
Although all age groups are at risk of contracting Covid-19, older persons are at a significantly higher risk. The United Nations estimates that people over the age of 80 are dying at five times higher than the average rate.