The Grenada Association for Retired Persons (GARP) is seeking to get the youth involved as they observe October as the month of the elderly with a variety of events.
Two of the biggest events planned for the month are an expo village at Morne Rouge Playing Field in Grand Anse and the million persons march and motorcade.
The month was officially kicked off with a church service on October 1 at the Evangelical Church situated on Market Hill, St. George, under the United Nation’s designated theme, “Stepping into the future: tapping the talents, contributions, and participation of older persons in society.”
Speaking to reporters at a press conference at the office of GARP on the Kirani James Boulevard last Monday, President Carol Vasquez and Treasurer and Chair of the Steering Committee of Project OP (Older Persons), Afzal Khan said the association will be celebrating the month in all parishes.
Khan said that the office on Kirani James Boulevard was turned into a health clinic on September 30 with the focus being on diabetes management and treating wounds of extremities.
He noted that these wounds often “don’t heal at all or take very, very long to heal”.
“We have several testimonies, and so we partner with SGU (St. George’s University), which has been a long and abiding partner with us since 2015 when we started”, he said.
“…We have partnered with the local nurses and doctors. All of our medicines are free – the strips, needles, insulin, they are all free.
We partner with an international team of doctors who come in ever so often. The last one that came in April brought in about US$80,000 worth of equipment, medicines, needles, insulin”, he added.
According to Khan, the initiative has been very beneficial to the organisation.
He said: “When you look at the end outcome of initiatives like these that the Grenada Association of Retired persons undertake, what you have is not only the healing of the wound and or better diabetic management but it leads to greater levels of self esteem, greater levels of confidence and independence…independence especially if there was a physical challenge so great that you have to walk on crutches”.
With the million persons march, GARP is hoping to attract heavy youth participation in every parish.
Khan is optimistic that the initiative can lead to greater promotion and education about GARP and its services.
“The way we see the march, it would be villagers engaging in the march with a GARP banner and hopefully we’re gonna have (it) in each parish (along with) the scout bands, cadet bands, big drums.
“We gonna have (it in) those parishes that have the talent. We want to try and hype the thing up and the youth involved and that will sensitise them to have empathy and compassion.
In speaking about the planned Expo Village, Khan pointed out that GARP is looking at putting on showcase what he referred to as “a museum tent of older things”.
“You’re going to have that old-time heater that you put coals in, you’re going to have that heater where you cook on one side. We’re also going to have forgotten behaviours – the way we treated with each other and we’re going to do that in story telling through the voices of Ricky Keens-Douglas and Robert White …we may also have other people on that theme”, he said.
According to Khan, the expo will also provide a tent that will focus on human spectrum, specifically targeting the youth.
“So we would have face painting, storytelling. We’re gonna be inviting people with animals so that the children will be able to ride the donkeys and the horses. We’re gonna have in that range a petting zoo because research is showing older persons (receive therapy) with interaction with animals.
“…We’re gonna be having a health and wellness tent where we provide information and give tips to older persons about how (they) should carry themselves – hygiene and those kinds of things.
“…We’re gonna have a beauty tent for the seniors, where our older females will be made up and be reminded that although you’re past 60, just like when you were 18 and 19 … you can dress in a way that can lift your spirits.
GARP is also planning to undertake a soup kitchen every week of the month in the various parishes for the older people and is hopeful that the youth would help to make it a success.