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Sep 27, 2004

HELPAGE celebrates SR. Citizens Week

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They say that what separates humans from animals is that humans are the only living creatures who know they will one day die. And while not all of us will leave this earth at a ripe old age, most of us hope to. Now you’d think these truths would ensure that our oldest citizens would be our most honoured, respected and well treated. Unfortunately, we’ve got a long way to go in that department…but as News 5′s Patrick Jones discovered, it’s not for lack of trying.

Patrick Jones, Reporting

Christmas is still three months away…but the music offered by Primary School students gave residents of the Sister Cecilia home for the elderly good reason to enjoy a foot-tapping afternoon. It?s the opening of Senior Citizens week, and Vice Chairman of HELPAGE Belize, Sister Elsa Oliva says the activities are designed to get young people involved so they learn to respect older persons.

Sister Elsa Oliva, Vice Chair., HELPAGE Belize

?It?s getting better, but it has a long way to go. We need to recognize them. We need to support them, we are not looking for handouts, but we are looking for people to be respected and at the same time to copy them in living a good Belizean life.?

For the last twenty years, HELPAGE Belize has been championing the cause of the country?s senior citizens. Oliva says it hasn?t been easy, but the organization has grown to where it now has a chapter in every district. But the HELPAGE executive says respecting the elderly is more than just putting them in a home.

Sister Elsa Oliva

?That?s the worst thing that can happen. Put them in an old home because they all have relatives. They all have children. And the children are responsible for the parents. And I wish that everybody that has a person either here at Sister Cecilia or in Cayo at Octavia Waight would really sponsor and take care of their people, then we wouldn?t need institutions like these.?

While the ideal would be to have senior citizens live out their golden years with family, these men and women count it a blessing that, at least for this one day, there was enough love to last a lifetime. Patrick Jones, for News Five.

Highlights of the week include a march, picnic at the House of Culture and the honouring of a centenarian and other older persons. The week of activities ends on Friday, October first, which will be celebrated as Senior Citizens Day.

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