By Moorosi Tsiane
HLOTSE — Social Development Minister, Matebatso Doti, said she is concerned about the rate of abuse the elderly people face in the communities.
Doti was speaking at an event to celebrate the International Day of Older Persons held in Hlotse on Tuesday.
“I have heard a lot of disturbing news concerning the old persons happening in our communities.
“Cases of assault and sexual abuse are quite disturbing.”
She said the ministry was doing everything it can to address issues that affect the elderly.
She said that government wants to protect and empower the aged.
“Our ministry is new. It started last year but we are doing all we can to ensure the safety of the elderly.
“This is a second time in a row we are celebrating this day.
“Last year the ceremony was held at Ha-Abia in Maseru.
“We will be holding this event across the country every year in order to get close to them (old persons) to hear what challenges they are facing and see how we can resolve them,” she said.
Also speaking at the event, Help Lesotho Country Director, Shadrack Mutembei, said the celebration was hosted to recognise, affirm and encourage senior citizens, essential sources of wisdom, on issues confronting society.
Mutembei said older persons play a critical role in Basotho families.
He said since its establishment, Help Lesotho has identified older people as one of its target population.
Over 1 200 old persons have benefited so far from Help Lesotho programmes.
“Since its founding in 2004, Help Lesotho has identified older persons as one of its target population because we have noticed that the role of older persons especially grandmothers became more critical as the HIV and Aids began to take its toll on Basotho communities.”
“Grandmothers took on the selfless responsibility of looking after many orphans and vulnerable children and supporting out of school and unemployed youth,” he said.
USAID advisor for orphaned and vulnerable children and community based care, Brenda Yamba, said she applauded the government of Lesotho for responding to the call of The Presidents Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR) programme that stresses the need to involve older persons in everyday developmental and social matters affecting society.
Help Lesotho provides psychological and medical support for older people living with ill family members, including older people in HIV and Aids education and training programmes.