Untold stories: Waiswa Muganza, Uganda

Waiswa, Uganda

 

I live with my twin brother, who is chairperson of our older people's association. His family supports us for most of our basic needs. I grow vegetables and do casual work to make a living.

Have you ever experienced discrimination because of your age?

Yes, I have experienced discrimination. Sometime back I got sick and went to a health centre, but the doctors pushed me out of the lines and in the end they never saw me. They claimed I was too old and that I would spoil their medicine. I felt really bad and depressed. Sometimes my grandchildren make decisions for me even when I haven't agreed to certain things, like spending my money.

What are you campaigning for right now, and how are you doing it?

I was inspired by the chairperson of Gaitakibi older persons group to start campaigning for older people's rights. I am working hand-in-hand with this group so that we see that our rights as older persons are not restricted. We ask the local council to open more health centres so more older people can reach them.
 
The campaign is not easy because we lack funds. We don't have money to enable us to campaign and fight for older people's rights, such as money to pay for transport. Where we live is very far away and we end up moving around a lot, which can also be very tiring on our bodies. But we are trying hard to achieve our goal with support from organisations like Uganda Reach the Aged Association and HelpAge International, among others.

Tell me about your proudest moments as a campaigner

My proudest moments are when I stand up for the rights of my fellow older people and see someone responding and respecting them. I have not met any decision-makers myself, but I know my voice has reached people in leadership positions and in ministries through Uganda Reach the Aged Association and our older people's group chairperson. 

How are things improving for older people in your country? 

Older people in my country are now supposed to receive Uganda’s social pension, but some of us in the urban centres haven't received it yet. And it is still a challenge that older people are not listened to because people say they are useless and do not think right. The government should put laws in place against elder abuse in Uganda and give strong punishments against those who abuse our rights. 

What is your message for other older people around the world?

My fellow older people should stay strong and positive, and do exercises to remain healthy. God has a plan for all of us.

And finally, what would your perfect world look like? 

A world with no discrimination. Only peace and happiness.
 
With thanks to HelpAge global network member Uganda Reach the Aged Association  
Read more stories from older campaigners. 

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