Thursday, September 15, 2011

Helping Seniors Regain their Dignity

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL -- In the midst of poverty, all too often the senior citizens suffer the most, due to of their lack of income, medical access and opportunity. This is also true here in the favela shanty-towns of Rio de Janeiro, where tens of thousands of seniors struggle to survive. With a desire to make a difference, Cause & Affect first sought out a local non-profit organization already doing effective work to address the situation. Working with our wonderful local partner IBISS, we discovered Novo Olhar aos Idosos, which is located in the Vila Cruzeiros neighborhood we have been concentrating on this year, as seen in out last two blog reports.

This project trains social workers to visit 25 seniors in need on a weekly basis. Once a week, they arrive to take the senior to the doctor, to the market, to the bank or just spend time to provide companionship, as many of these people suffer from neglect and loneliness. For those that live with their families, the social workers help train these families to address the needs and wishes of their elderly family members.

When Cause & Affect expressed our desire to help, we visited several of the seniors and it became obvious there are MANY needs to address. Some of these people are living in sub-humane conditions, such as 84 year-old Dona Augusta (upper right), whose roof had sprung a nasty leak, soaking her bed and tiny home in water. The ensuing mold created a horrible stench and very unhealthy living conditions. We quickly had the roof repaired and as the video shows, Dona Augusta is happy to report her home and bed are now dry.

We also followed the lead of the Make-A-Wish project, granting her decades-long wish by buying her a plane ticket to visit her family in Bahia, in the Northeast of Brazil, as Dona Augusta had migrated to Rio 40 years earlier and had never had the money to visit her long-lost family. We put her on a flight for the first time in her life and as she explains in the video, once she took off into the blue sky, she just wanted to reach out and touch the clouds. Ah, the child reawakens...
For Dona Belinice, a 95 year-old woman very dear to our hearts, home improvement was also the major need, so we rebuilt her patio that had been destroyed years earlier by rain so that she can now sit outside and actually get some fresh air and sun.
For a woman confined to a dark little home, you can imagine what a refreshing joy it is to now be able to enjoy the outdoors. As she told us, "The sun brings life." Gospel, indeed. We also installed some hand-rails in her home so she can get in and out of bed and go to the bathroom without falling, as had happened numerous times earlier. As she blessed me (see video), the strength of her wonderful spirit was on full display.

For other seniors, we provided reading glasses and dental prostheses. Looking at the before and after smiles, it is obvious how much appreciated our assistance was in improving these wonderful seniors lives. Cause & Affect spent a total of $2,600 to address these many mini-projects. Special thanks to Peter de Jong, who visited the seniors' homes with us and passed along a very generous donation!

"Our society must make it right and possible for old people not to fear the young or be deserted by them, for the test of a civilization is the way that it cares for its helpless members."- Pearl S. Buck

Thank you to all of our wonderful donors. To help more seniors like this please give here.

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