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Feature: Elderly Kenyans struggle to survive amid growing ageing population

18 April 2016, 18:22

Nakuru (Xinhua) -- If he was working in the Kenyan civil service, Aboka Sande would have retired and enjoyed monthly drawings from the National Social and Security Fund (NSSF), a State kitty offering retirement benefits to civil servants and the self-employed who would have saved for their old age.

But the 87-year-old man is still breaking rocks at the hills of Hyrax, in the eastern part of Nakuru town, Rift Valley region.

His waning energy is not a derailing factor at least not at the moment since he has nothing else to do to feed his three wives.

He neither has any education nor experience in anything else that can earn him a decent salary other than pet and garden keeping duties.

"I worked for the British colonialists tending to flowers, cooking for dogs and feeding the poultry and when they left in 1963, I became jobless. Then, joining the quarry was the only job left for me," Sande said in an interview with Xinhua on Sunday.

Had he had an education, the elderly man who had moved from Western Kenya to Nakuru in the Rift Valley in 1959, could have secured a well-paying job thereafter made profit making investments, he said.

"Just look at me. Do I look like someone who should be working in a quarry? At my age (87), I should have retired or doing something light but what can I do. I have nowhere else to eke a living. I have no education. Nobody can employ me," said the ever smiling and easy elderly man.

But it is his passion and stress-free life that can easily draw one to this jovial Sande who has to walk for at least 13 kilometers to and from his work station.

He lives in Kaptembwa slums, west of Nakuru town, characterized with habitation of low income earners with little access to clean water and sanitation.

Neither was his earlier life working for the 'Sigree' (British colonialists), any better as he also lived in an isolated estate for African-Langa Langa-equally with limited access to better and quality basic services.

Even with the education he has offered his 17 children, little is to offer as a gift for a more enjoyable and less straining old age.

"I feel like a neglected father but my life has to go on. This is not an easy job. I even don't take lunch since I have to minimize expenses to take care of my wives and children," he said.

"Modernism has corrupted children of this generation. They easily forget about their parents. They forget to appreciate the sacrifices their parents made to give them an education and a good life," he observed.

In each month of hard work, Sande is able to make an average of 200 U.S. dollars even as he says his flesh and bones are at the tip of breaking point.

His wish is "If I could save enough money to start a business of auctioning cows or open a shop, I would be happy. That could be relaxing for me. But time is running out for me."

Sande represents a growing population of older persons in Kenya in need of social protection and security. Furthemore, facing challenges of neglect, improper housing and poor diet.

In its "Growing Old in Kenya: Making it a Positive Experience", the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights observes that the biggest increases in population in Africa are likely to occur in Kenya. It is projected that by 2050, there will be a 470 percent rise in the number of older persons.

At the moment there are more than 1.2 million people above the age of 60 with biggest population found in the Rift Valley and Nyanza regions according to government figures.

The government through the ministry of labour and social services offers a monthly stipend of 20 dollars to the elderly persons who are proven to be living in impoverished conditions.

However, in recognition of the expected increase of older persons, the African Union through its Policy Framework and Plan of Action on Ageing, emphasizes the need for governments, on-governmental organisations, private sector and the society to prepare for the future situation.

It proposes the stakeholders to engage in regional mechanism to ensure the rights and dignity of the older persons is protected.

- Xinhua

Tags elderly

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