Meher, 95, Bangladesh

Meher is a widow and has several health problems. HelpAge partner Resource Integration Centre (RIC) helped her apply for an old-age allowance which means she can now afford to buy medication.

Meher had no idea she was entitled to a pension before we helped her access her rights.

Credit: (c) Kate Holt/HelpAge International

Meher had no idea she was entitled to a pension before we helped her access her rights.

"I think I am about 95 years old - I am not sure exactly but I am getting very old now.

"I am a widow, my husband died over 20 years ago. I had ten children, but only three are alive now.

"Sometimes I get chest pains. The last time I had to go to the doctor and he gave me medication so that I got better. I can't hear very well but I don't think the doctor can do anything about that because I am old.

I spend all my allowance on medication

"I get an old-age allowance of 200 taka (US$3) per month, which I have to spend on medication.

"I joined RIC three years ago and regularly go to meetings. It was through the centre that I got my pension. They put my name forward to the local government so now I get some money every month.

"Before RIC told me, I had no idea I could get a pension. Without them, I wouldn't have known how to go about getting one.

"Because I get this allowance, I can now buy my own medication. This is very important to me. Before I felt that I was a burden to my children, especially as they do not have regular incomes.

Older people united

"Older people never felt that they could go to government offices but now they feel they have the strength to do this. Before RIC came into existence, the head of the Union Council used to select which older people would be eligible for benefits. Now this is up to the older people themselves.

"I don't think that the government is doing enough for older people. I have heard about the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing. It works on behalf of older people like me to make sure that our rights are made known to the government. Through older people's associations we can do this.

"Older people need to work together in order to have a voice and be able to go the government with what they need, want and deserve."

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"Before RIC (HelpAge partner) told me, I had no idea I could get a pension. Without them, I wouldn't have known how to go about getting one. Because I get this allowance, I can now buy my own medication. This is very important to me. Before I felt I was a burden to my children."

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