Sumary of Zimbabwe’s older people often sent to homes amid pandemic:
- HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — Banana bread was served at a recent birthday party at Melfort Old People’s home, where a group of residents mustered a raspy happy birthday tune.
- Just a week after arriving at the facility, Rodrick Bhatare, in his 90s, said he felt a bittersweet moment at the celebration for a 103-year-old fellow resident.
- The lucky ones end up at facilities for older people— once widely viewed by many Zimbabweans as “un-African” and against the social bonds that have held extended families together for generations.
- Rarely talked about, older people are “silent victims” of the pandemic, said Priscilla Gavi, executive director of HelpAge Zimbabwe.
- COVID-19 has increased the risk of abuse and neglect of older people across Africa and around the world, according to a report by HelpAge International.
- Bhatare said that after he retired from work as a quarry miner about two decades ago “all was well” as he alternately stayed with his two daughters and other relatives.
- Food in the home became scarce, tensions rose, and to survive Bhatare began foraging for meals on the streets until concerned neighbors alerted HelpAge, which found him a place in the Melfort home, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) east of Harare, the capital.
- “It doesn’t really resonate with what we are accustomed to as Africans.