The government will always recognise the contribution the elderly have made in building the country, Dr Alvera Mukabaramba, the State Minister in charge of Social Affairs at the Ministry of Local Government has said.
She made the remarks on Sunday in Ngoma District as the country celebrated the International Day of Older Persons.
The celebration was marked through various activities to support older people living in Rukumberi area in Ngoma.
The activities included, construction of kitchen gardens, distribution of foodstuff, provision of mattresses, and mosquito nets, among others.
Mukabaramba said old people deserve respect because they played an important role in bringing up younger generations. She also said the country’s socio-economic life is founded on their efforts.
Mukabaramba noted that caring for old people required the intervention of three partners; the government, children and neighbours.
“Older people are vulnerable. If we do not take care of them, we are doing them and ourselves a disservice. It is the duty of every child to respect and care for their old parents,” she added.
She cited on various initiatives the government implemented to improve old people’s welfare such as VUP, Girinka, accommodation, monthly financial support, and health insurance.
Challenges old people face
Aphrodis Nambaje, the Mayor of Ngoma District, recognised the improvement of old people’s welfare, but added that problems such as old houses that needed renovation, still remained.
He added that the district organises community service during which old people are visited and helped in various ways such as cleaning their houses and compounds, cultivating their lands, among others.
Old people speak
Francois Nyirimbabazi, 82, whose land was tilled that day, said that he is grateful for what the government does to support old people.
He said that he used to look for people who would come and help cultivate his land and then share the produce which he said was a loss.
Callixte Burasanzwe, 75, said they could even be dead, if the government had not thought of them.
“In the past years, old people used to face many challenges, but now we are happy with our living conditions. No old person dies of poor living conditions anymore,” Burasanzwe said.
There are over 500,000 old people who make up five per cent of the population.
The International Day of Older Persons is observed on October 1 annually.