Forgotten Senior Citizens Project is an Optiven Foundation initiative aimed at restoring the dignity of the elderly citizens in the nation. The project majorly seeks out the elderly in the society to offer decent housing for their safety and security. This is in line with the Focus/Objectives areas of the Foundation which are;
- Provision of education opportunities to millions of needy children in Africa.
- Poverty Alleviation
- Promotion of Health and
- Environmental Protection.
During the commemoration of the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, June 15, 2015 it was noted that many cases of abuse have been reported in several counties. Being denied clothing, denial of medical care and insurance, abandonment and isolation and loneliness are among the ills level against the elderly. It was thus a magnanimouscourse by the foundation to reach out to this group. As the bible puts it in James 1:27pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, to keep himself unspotted from the world.
The Pilot Project
It was done in Kitui County. The semi-arid county sixth largest in size covers 30,520 km2 has Kitui and Mwingi as main centers. It’s eleventh in population size at 1,000,012 as of 2009 census. There are short and unreliable rains in March and May with more reliable rains in October and December. Mwingi town which is along A3 road 200km east of Nairobi mainly deals with subsistence farming in maize, beans, pigeon peas, sorghum, millet, cassava etc. Livestock keeping is also popular, especially goats and cattle. The town also has small-scale industries for honey, gypsum and fruit processing.The population consists of majority Christians and minority Muslim in urban centers. Mwingi hosts a majority of senior citizens, as from five villages visited in every 5 homestead, 3 had at least 2 senior citizens. Most of them have some of their family’s members within reach but still live in dire conditions.
This phase benefited the following citizens;
- Kithia Mulei
- Ndemwa Mbithi
- Mutinda Sambu
- Musau Mutisya
- Mukuta Kitali
This entailed a fully equipped house with a solar lamp, a bed, mattress, curtains and utensils.
It was song and dance as the senior citizens had access to their homes. How wholesome it is to see a dream come true? Words cannot express the feeling when the burden is from a stranger who chooses to offer you a house and you know this is for the rest of your life. In that moment of cutting away those beautifully decorated green and cream flower ribbons into new beginnings, new happiness. Having keys that unlocked their new abode, bringing a sense of endless possibilities.
To the Optiven team and the sponsors it was a dream come true, a witness to the joy of offering a second chance. As a mark of longevity, every house opened had a tree planted, this was in line with the greening policy held by the Foundation. Further, the trees planted represented future growth. That the Foundation shall be there in days to come to touch more and more lives and shall withstand all the pressures. Trees represent resilience, as a tree bends in a storm just as we weather the daily struggles of life. As the Trustees, Sponsors and Senior Citizens watered each tree that was planted, it was a sign of commitment that together, in willingness and humility we can do more for growth and restoration.
Each new day is another chance at a new beginning, yesterday is a memory, and tomorrow is a mystery all we really have is today-make today matter.