AgeWell – A new beginning for older South Africans

by Roger Thomas, volunteer

(The following is an excerpt from AgeWell volunteer Roger Thomas’s observations of the AgeWell training programme in Khayelitsha.)

The AgeWell Programme brings a new idea that aims to improve the lives of older people in South Africa, and around the world. And…it is being born right here in Khayelitsha, South Africa. In years to come when AgeWell is internationally renowned, people will say: “It all started in Khayelitsha.”

When a new idea is born, no matter how good it is, it has to be well planned and managed. The last few months have been an intensive preparation period by many people, from many countries coming together in an incredibly exciting and hard working team environment. The rigorous four week training course training programme has been completed and the AgeWell graduates are ready to go into the community and begin their work.

We all get old, ageing is a natural part of life and should never be seen as a burden to a community any more than a young child is a burden. In fact older people can give a lot more but as they get older and less strong and mobile they might need a bit more help. They have done a lot in their lives, looking after others, working, building, loving, caring and it is only right that, in their autumn years, they are happy, respected and valued. Older people are a great treasure to the community. They have wisdom, kindness, time, experience and they want to be a happy and good member of the community as much as anyone else.

The AgeWells have undergone thorough training, even being taught how to use smartphones so they can catch up with their children and grandchildren. The first group of AgeWells had completed their training course and were presented with their AgeWell certificates on the on the 28th of March 2014. Their graduation ceremony was an inspiring and happy occasion. The twenty one graduates clapped, danced, sang and prayed with joy in their hearts.
• They were making history.
• They were the first AgeWells ever – in the world.
• They knew the AgeWell idea is a wonderful one.
• They knew it would work and spread around their community, the city, the country and the world.

As the progressive fragmentation and mobility of modern society breaks down the traditional family structures, where the aged were automatically cared for in stable location bound communities, the birth of AgeWell is an idea whose time has come.

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