Celebrating older people in the DRC
1 October is the UN International Day of Older Persons on which older people the world over gather to claim their rights and show themselves as a real force for change.
It is also the day our Age Demands Action (ADA) campaign culminates. It fights age-related discrimination and provides an opportunity for older people to meet their decision makers and discuss the issues that are important to them.
Age Demands Action impact
In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), ADA celebrations took place in Goma and Beni in North Kivu province and over 4,000 older people took part. The goal was to invite political authorities, leaders of NGOs and the United Nations so older people could share their thoughts and concerns with them.
It should be noted that older people's advocacy has already started to generate results, with one governor granting a plot of land to older people to build a social centre. It's encouraging to see the authorities are beginning to be aware of the importance of protecting older people.
To mark 1 October and with the Group of Associations Caring for Older People (CAEPA), we conducted several awareness raising activities. There was a small parade through the city to the Red Cross building where more activities took place, such as folk songs, dance and theatre. People of note who attended included the Provincial Minister responsible for Social Affairs, Kahindo Muthethe and the Provincial Minister of Land Affairs, William Bulenda.
Valuing older people's opinions
The opening speech of the day was delivered by HelpAge's country director, Gaétan Duhamel. He talked about the history of 1 October, the importance of our Age Demands Action campaign, and its accomplishments so far. He also focused on the theme of the day "valuing the opinions of older people" and older people's ideas of the future they want. Following this, older people talked about their needs and concerns, which included food security, healthcare and livelihoods.
Next, the Minister of Social Affairs and the Minister of Land Affairs took the floor. Among other things, they stated that these ministries will support older people in North Kivu in their efforts to improve their living conditions and escape poverty.
Finally, older people exhibited some of their handmade objects to promote their income generating activities. HelpAge bought some to distribute to other vulnerable older people in Mugunga III camp for internally displaced people. And to close the event, Monique Muhombo, the president of CAEPA gave a final speech.
In Beni, where HelpAge also works, 1 October was celebrated by over 1,100 older people. In Beni Town, 308 older people met the Mayor's representative and in Beni territory, 839 older people gathered with representatives of social groups, as well as religious leaders. And in Butembo, about 2,800 older people met the Mayor to celebrate the UN International Day of Older Persons.
Find out more about our Age Demands Action campaign
Sign our Age Demands Action petition to support a UN convention on older people's rights.