Hellen Hove Elderly Care Trust is the brains of Hellen Hove (Mrs) born in Kadoma in a family of 6 on the 19th of December 1939. She is the surviving sibling out of 6. She has 5 children who all have their families now and she lives with the 3rd born. Mbuya Hove is former nurse on pension,
Hellen Hove Elderly Care Trust operates a Day Centre for older women in Mberengwa were 13 older women are meeting regularly for psychosocial support. When the idea of utilising the centre as meeting point for older women came, Mbuya Hove was the chairperson for Parish at Lutheran. She saw 3 older women walking with support sticks and interviewed them then realised they were struggling but at their age could have managed without a stick if their mental and social aspects of life were good and this brought to mind the idea of utilising her building as a day centre of older women’s psychosocial support.
On 9 May 2011, I had my first group of older women at the centre and they were 21. We spent days discussing social and health issues and came up with the idea to do crafts as the older women highlighted that they had expertise in crafting. Currently 13 women attend the monthly support sessions and do craft work at the centre. The number of women reduced as some passed on while others were taken away by their children. The centre could not enrol more people due to financial constraints.
I encourage older women to stay active and engage in income generating activities. When the members come to the centre during the one week they do craft work making doormats, baskets, wall hangings and mats. We do all this using locally available materials such as banana bark, reeds. These products are sold locally but when we get visitors to the centre they usually buy. The maximum price for a single item is USD5. We bring together all the money and then share it among members and this is usually after every 2 months.
The older women create beautiful crafts that have been showcased at agricultural shows and other expos. “At one Women’s Expo in Gweru visitors to our stand were really impressed and one visitor donated a television for the centre out of appreciation for the work being done by these grannies” The work by these grannies is an example of how people should age, people should not just sit and really on handouts but stay active, in that way the mind also stay s active and one experiences less stress,
I was struggling using my own funds for food and transport to keep the programme running monthly. At first I used my vehicle to collect the women from their homes and this was expensive. I then had to meet with the group as and when I got the funds and not consistently. Since 2016 we are now getting support from CCDS to cover transport and food which is a great relief as we have managed to keep the programme running. This has also increased our crafts production and income for the women. In addition we are now running sensitisation meeting on older persons rights in the community during meetings and commemorations of days related to older people such as the International Day of Older Persons.
Mbuya Hove says major problems faced by OP are neglect and discrimination. Families sometimes do not understand changes that come with ageing and they end up neglecting the older people. The centre used to link with Manane Hospital for provision of physiotherapy for some older persons at the centre but it was last done in 2015. She recons that physiotherapy and occupational therapy is important for older people especially when they spend a lot of time ideal and neglected at home.
“It has not been easy to keep the centre running as there is need for food, payment of bills, transport for the grannies and renovations. Mbuya Hellen Hove is convinced that this kind of a centre is helpful in society considering the hardships experienced by older persons and the general social problems around the country. The Centre is able to provide a refreshing point for older persons, enable older persons to share ideas and experiences.”
The CCDS has been working with HHECT since 2014 providing technical and started providing financial support in 2016. Support for older persons has been low in Zimbabwe and community based initiatives such as these provide an opportunity to reach out to older persons and embrace longevity.
If you need to get in touch with Hellen Hove Elderly Care Trust you can contact Bishop Shava on 071 440 0042 or Hellen Hove on 071 644 7441