The youth should always stick to deep-r00ted values such as love, unity, hard work, respect and innovation that have guided Rwandans from the past in order to safeguard the country’s achievements and maintain its growth, older persons have said.
The elderly, who were speaking on Saturday in Huye District during celebrations of the International Day for Older Persons, said it is imperative that younger generations uphold the country’s cultural and moral values for the nation’s prosperous future.
The celebration, which featured dance, poems and interactions between older persons and the youth, focused on the role of the elderly in building a safe, prosperous and stable nation and their contribution to educating and nurturing a productive youth.
Joseph Kagabo, 78, said he is always saddened by cases of family feuds that have, in some instances, led to killing of family members.
He attributed such behaviours to greed, lack of mutual respect, drug abuse and the loss of many other traditional values that bound Rwandans together in the past.
“The loss of our values could destroy our social ties and ruin our communities,” Kagabo warned.
“Youth should shun such bad behaviours and focus on what builds their lives, contributes to strengthening social cohesion and the ultimate development of their families and the country in general.”
Dominika Nyirabaziga, who is in her late 70s, advised the youth to “respect their parents and other members of the community.”
“Some young individuals have simply decided not to listen to advice from their parents and other people within their communities, something I believe explains why some young people engage in bad habits such as drug abuse that end up ruining their future,” Nyirabaziga said.
“It is always wise to heed advice.”
The International Day of Older Persons, which is usually celebrated on October 1, is an occasion to raise awareness about issues affecting the elderly and also appreciate their contributions to society.
Globally, there are around 600 million persons aged 60 years and over and predictions suggest this total will double by 2025. It is expected to reach two billion by 2050, of whom the majority will be in the developing world, according to the World Health Organisation.
Though older people face many challenges, particularly in regard to socio-economic welfare, those who spoke to The New Times appreciated the support from the local community.
Apart from those living in dedicated elderly centres, those who still live in the community said the support they have got from other members of the community, who are not necessarily their family members, is ‘overwhelming’.
Support to the elderly
The government support, mainly through the Vision 2020 Umurenge Programme (better known as VUP) has also contributed to making their lives better, both the older people and leaders say.
Through the programme’s direct support component, the government channels monthly living stipend to vulnerable old people within the community to help them improve their living conditions.
Huye mayor Eugene Kayiranga Muzuka said the programme has been ‘very instrumental’ in bettering the lives of the elderly.
Apart from the funds channelled through the programme, the district has also been availing Rwf2 million per year in support to the three centres that cater for old people in the district, the mayor said.
“Supporting the most vulnerable individuals within the community is a government policy and we shall continue implementing it,” Muzuka said.