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Be the change you want to see in the world

07 Nov 2013

At the photo exhibitionIn many societies, a common result of being an older man or woman is becoming invisible. The sad thing is it's not only the younger generation who has this conviction, but also some older people themselves.

As a child growing up, I spent a lot of time with my grandfather. He was a mechanical engineer - his passion - and worked until his late 70s.

After he retired from the physical aspect of his work, he continued as an adviser until his last day. When people came to visit him, they respected him highly for his contributions; taking off their hats to him, never interrupting him as he spoke and always giving him way.

Active ageing

It has been over two decades since then, and having worked in the development sector focusing on ageing for some three years, I reflected that my grandpa must have done something right. In my work I meet many wonderful people who are older and who are as inspiring. But at the same time, I see many older people living in poverty, without hope.

My grandpa was very proud. He was proud to be as old as he was and he was proud of his work. He respected everyone and adapted to the changes in his own life as well as to society around him.

Dreams have no age limit

This October, HelpAge in Ethiopia together with its affiliate EEPNA (Ethiopian Elderly and Pensioners National Association) organised the first-ever annual exhibition focused entirely on older people.

Held in the greenery of the Tropical Gardens in Addis Ababa from 17-20 October, the event was undertaken by and for older people. The exhibition allowed organisations to display their work to improve older people's lives, particularly in matters relating to work and care.

The exhibitors introduced their work presenting video, printed materials, photographs and handicrafts to senior officials from the government, HelpAge's new CEO Toby Porter and representatives from older people's associations from across the capital city. The event also engaged teenagers as volunteers alongside older people.

Preparing to age with grace

We must bridge the gap between the generations by teaching young people how much older people contribute. We must ensure they understand the challenges of ageing and ensure they take the necessary steps to prepare for their older years. We must also spread the message that you are never too old to learn, to share, to experience or to make things happen!Bridging the gap between generations

In order to ensure a better tomorrow for all older people, there must be action today. We must create awareness across generations, empower older people and create an enabling environment in which people can age actively.

HelpAge, together with Ethiopian older people and partners has taken a step in promoting the possibilities of ageing. Getting older is an inevitable fact of life but we all have the right to be supported in getting there happily and healthily.

Find out more about our work with older people in Ethiopia.

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Author profile

Erna Mentesnot Hintz
Country: Ethiopia
Job title: Communications Officer

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These blogs are personal reflections and do not necessarily reflect the views of HelpAge International.