Grandma’s Club, established three years ago, celebrated the International Day of Older Persons on October 2. The club aims to keep grandmothers in good shape and provides a platform for these senior women to connect, share their life experiences, and address the challenges they face at this stage of their lives. The day is typically celebrated on October 1 every year, aiming to increase awareness of the challenges and issues that older individuals face globally. Held at the Crown Conference Hall in Nyarutarama, under the theme ‘Fulfilling the Promise of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for Older Persons across Generations’, the inaugural event attracted over 50 Grandma’s Club members. Marie Clare Mukasine, the Chairperson of the National Commission for Human Rights in Rwanda (NHCR), was the guest of honour. During the event, club members highlighted the challenges they encounter and their efforts to tackle them. They also deliberated on the misunderstandings about older individuals and their abilities, aiming to alter the perception of what elders can and cannot accomplish as they grow older. ALSO READ: Age-defying fitness: Meet the Grandma’s Club Eva Gara, the founder of Grandma’s Club, mentioned that the women face significant challenges such as loneliness due to isolation or the loss of loved ones, as well as inactivity leading to physical and mental health issues. She said: “Low income due to lack of opportunities due to misconceptions and stereotypes that old people are incapable or unproductive is also another challenge.” Gara, 62, a mother of three and grandmother of four shared that after thoroughly analysing how nature comes into its own, the club initiated some programmes to solve these issues. “We normally have monthly sessions to discuss, share issues and identify solution-oriented activities, participate in weekly exercise sessions, volunteerism, and training in palliative care of loved ones. “On top of that, the club is gearing up to establish an opinion leader’s platform amongst senior citizens to advise on societal issues such as isolation of senior citizens, teen pregnancy, substance abuse amongst young people, and more,” she added. ALSO READ: Why older people should embrace the spirit of physical activity Mukasine commended the initiative, acknowledging that the aforementioned are all true. “However, when you come together, share ideas, and take action related to your lives and families, it highlights the great values you held in the Rwandan community,” she said. She added: “Unfortunately, some people mistakenly believe that the elderly are incapable and no longer have valuable contributions to make, yet they have an invaluable reservoir of wisdom that can benefit the younger generation.” It is worth noting that the National Policy for Elderly People, established in 2021, has four objectives: raising awareness for everyone to prepare for retirement in terms of health, finances, and social cohesion; promoting healthy living for elderly people; ensuring welfare and protection from domestic violence; and fostering positive values for intergenerational relationships. Mukasine mentioned that the government has put in place various programmes and actions to help vulnerable people, including the elderly. “These initiatives include Vision 2020 Umurenge Program (VUP), Girinka, Access to Justice Bureaus (MAJ), EJOHEZA, Impinganzima homes and many more,” Mukasine said. According to 2022 National Institute of Statistics Rwanda (NISR) findings, the population of working age group (16-59) in Rwanda constitutes 53.7 per cent of the country’s population: 28 and 26 per cent for females and males respectively, while older persons aged 60 and above represent 6.5 per cent of the population, composed by a proportion of 3.8 per cent of women that is higher than that of male which is 2.7 per cent.