Priscilla Jones, the president TAPEA, said that the initiative was meant to facilitate and encourage moral teaching in schools and to bridge the gap between youth and elders.
She added: “This opportunity will help to bring great recognition and concern in addressing these needs. This forum will also give us a chance for us all to speak with one voice and future programmes ahead by introducing such a club in schools. It will as well serve as vital fundamental prevention strategy that will involve cultural norms and values, which will in turn help in changing attitudes and behaviours toward our elderly in the family, community and society.”
Speaking on behalf of the director of Social Welfare, Pierre Jatta who is the head of Adoption and Child Placement, commended the association for the initiative. He said its aim is to create a platform that will bridge the gap between the youth and elders and promote moral teaching in schools.
“The government of The Gambia through the department of social welfare fully recognises the need to uphold the welfare of all including the elderly,” he added. “The promotion and protection of the basic human right of the elderly is high on the government’s agenda as evident in the development of the Programme for Accelerated Growth and Employment and Vision 2020.”
“The establishment of the home for the elderly in 2003 by government also demonstrated the government’s commitment towards the protection and promotion of the rights of the elderly in our society. The elderly continue to play a pivotal role in our communities. In the dawn of the 21th century, the community support system or safety nets for the elderly has suffered significant challenges due to factors such as economic, migration, and HIV/AIDS.”
Deputising for the Inspector General of Police, Demba Sowe described the launching of the Youths for Elders club as ‘demonstrating the willingness’ of the Association for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, [TAPEA] to end elder abuse.
He said: “We recognise that the elderly make huge cross-cutting contributions to their families, societies and country at large. The notion that they do not or cannot contribute to development is a myth. Support of the older generation is vital for the overall growth of our country, and in turn, they will need our practical assistance in providing moral support and care. The Gambia provides support to the extended family system, and also encourages families to develop and nurture a culture of reciprocal assistance to enable old age groups to contribute to national development efforts. The reality is that in The Gambia as in many parts of the world the traditional support system for the elderly continues to break down as a result of increasing individualism, urbanisation and migration. In the past, taking care of the elderly was deeply entrenched in our culture. However, due to the fragility of social cohesion, rapid migration and urbanisation, there is a paradigm shift of the traditional support system thus exhibiting threats and anxieties among policy makers, concern citizens and development thinkers.
“Typically, elders were referred to as a class gifted with certain wisdom and knowledge: however, in today’s society we have technology, in particular the internet and many other valuable sources to turn to for the acquisition of knowledge. The counselling roles of the elders which were very critical in the upbringing of our youth in the past are fading as a result of modernisation.”]]>