ADA in Kenya: Older campaigners united in their demands
These past weeks, older activists from Nairobi and neighbouring towns gathered at the HelpAge Kenya offices to discuss their activities for the Age Demands Action (ADA) campaign.
Among those present were veterans of the campaign like Mama Rhoda Ngima and Philomena, as well as newcomers from the neighbouring town of Misyani.
It was quite apparent from the discussions that ensued that the older people were united in their demands. Our job as organisers was made extremely easy.
United in their demands
Speaker after speaker drew on their personal experiences:
They had failed to get proper medical attention and access to proper drugs when they visited their local healthcare centre.
They had been unable to access their pension even after they had registered through the proper channels.
They felt discriminated against when they tried to get public transport.
They were treated with disrespect at medical centres by staff.
They had nowhere to go to meet and relax, exchange ideas and generally have a good time with their friends.
The list was endless.
What was interesting for me was that the new activists took to the process of narrowing down the demands they would present to government ministers like a duck to water. They were not shy. Instead, all the activists were empowered to make change happen.
The greatest success of Age Demands Action
This, to me, is the greatest success of ADA. Yes, the government can give more money out in pensions. Yes, they can ensure older people do not line up at hospitals and banks. Yes, they can provide proper training to medical staff to cater to the needs of older people.
However, the empowerment of older people, such as Paul Muthee who collects recycled materials and sells them for a living but can sit face to face with the Chief Justice and Attorney General and demand for his rights, is the greatest achievement of the campaign.
For without this empowerment, older people would feel relegated to the fringes of society, to live out the current stereotype of what an older person is: hardly seen and never heard.
This is my last ADA at HelpAge. I take fond memories of the campaign from across the African continent. I will cherish the times I have spent with ADA activists in Kenya, Mozambique and Ethiopia among other countries.
I wish them all good health and the strength to continue demanding for their rights. One day, I'll be one of them; an older person campaigning for a better life for my generation.