Highlands Hope Umbrella has extended the benefits of the TANWAT Seniors Day Centre concept to the village of Itulike where a volunteer home-based care worker from CHAKUNIMU (a member organization of the Umbrella) has been working with elders to bring them together.
The gathering of elders was held on December 8, 2013, and the twenty five elders who gathered agreed unanimously that they would like to start a monthly gathering with program support from Highlands Hope Umbrella. The meeting was attended by Highlands Hope director Betty Liduke, George Sanga, education animator with the Seniors Day Centre at TANWAT, Edmund Munubi, managing financial director of TANWAT, and Royal Orr, Canadian friend of the Highlands Hope Umbrella.
Most elders who gathered were in their sixties and seventies but several were over eighty and one woman was 91. There was a brief discussion of the challenges of being elderly in rural Tanzania and enthusiasm for a program that would help break down the isolation and lack of support that many seniors in the group were feeling.
A small gift of a bag of sugar and a bar of soap was distributed to each participant. When asked why these gifts were chosen, an elder raised his hand and said, "The sugar is to encourage us to drink tea rather than alcohol and the soap is because you expect us to turn up washed for the next meeting!" The other seniors laughed and agreed.
The programming at the Seniors day Centre at TANWAT includes information on nutrition, hand-washing, and basic health care. The Centre also provides regular blood pressure and eye exams and helps seniors understand their health needs better.