Elders Helping Hands

Legend Afro-American Partners, trading online as ‘Elders Helping Hands,’ offers older people in the town of Akokwa the respect, the care and the dignity they have earned and deserve.

 

Akokwa is a quiet, peaceful community in the eastern part of Nigeria. We have motivated, caring women ready and eager to lead the way in helping lonely older people. Many elders in Akokwa have already benefited from our program.

 

Unlike in many towns and counties in the United States, where seniors have institutions capable of meeting their daily needs, even for a short period, no such services exist in my hometown, Akokwa, or in Imo, my state of origin.

 

Gone are the days when old African men and women could expect their children to provide the social safety nets their own parents envisioned. Financial and social needs continue to compel children to live far away from home, exposing elderly parents to peril and danger.

 

Papa Okezie

Papa Okezie, a seventy-nine year old grandfather, woke up early one Friday morning. He sat on his bed as he waited for help to the bathroom. For the last two years Papa had had problems with walking. His ankles had become stiff and numb, and his knees ached with every step.

 

He gazed at the bedroom wall in front of him until the morning sun sent its rays through a partially closed wooden window. Still nobody came to help. In search of a better life, his children had long since moved away and out of reach. His wife of almost fifty years had her own challenges and could no longer help him.

 

Grandfather Okezie did not think he could make it to the bathroom without falling. As he waited, nature crept up on him. His pants became soaked, and so did the part of the bed where he sat.  A trickle ran down his legs to the cement floor below. ‘God, let me die,’ he begged.

 

Similar circumstances and despair confront a lot of elders, men and women, in my community on a daily basis.

 

So What?

There is something wrong when our seniors long for death when dealing with the minor challenges of aging. Papa had given up hope. Life was no longer worth much. Never did he foresee a life of such helplessness.

 

Something is wrong in a society where elders struggle because family members are incapable of providing care. Far too many of our elders suffer from social isolation and community abandonment.

 

Why can’t we care for our elders in the twilight of their life, assist them to the bathroom, help clean out their bedroom, make sure their surroundings are safe, feed them and keep them socially engaged?

 

One of the elders we visited did not need help with chores at the moment but just wanted company. The staff stayed with him and listened to his stories and words of wisdom.  ‘When will you come again?’ he asked as they were leaving.

 

We intend to duplicate our services in several parts of Imo State in Nigeria. Your donation will go towards increasing the number of elders we help each week, as well as making a difference to how frequently we can visit each person.  In the longer term, further contributions will go toward building a seniors’ recreation center in Imo State, Nigeria.

 

Imagine how amazing it would be to see our parents and grandparents hang out with their peers, putter in the garden, play board games, do a little light work, dance to their favorite music and always have someone to share their stories with!

 

We are aware of how distrustful the public becomes whenever a Nigerian solicits money, thanks to well-known phone and internet scams.  Please be aware that I am a practicing physician in the States of Connecticut and New York. As president of the organization, together with the members of the Board of Directors, I pledge a total commitment to openness. Integrity and full accountability will guide the life and activities of this organization.

 

On behalf of the members of the Board of Legend Afro-American Partners, I would like to express my gratitude to those have helped us along our journey thus far. It is indeed true: whenever we step up to a higher cause the entire universe conspires to help.

 

Special thanks go to Mark Hannon, who designed our web page and insisted on a sense of purpose. Mark is solidly behind our mission and has connected us with so many amazing individuals.

 

Daniel Golenboch of the International Institute of Connecticut showed us how to use CrowdRise funding, and Cynthia Cavoto improved our social media contacts.  Our appreciation also goes to Alexandra Cannon, who agreed to help with grant writing, and Jill Boniface, who helps edit some of our articles.

 

We Need Your Help

The time has come to accord African seniors similar respect and care as that found in many civilized societies. That’s why building the first senior recreation center in Imo State is the ultimate goal of Legend Afro-American Partners.

 

If you share our goals, if you understand our grief, or if you see our vision, please join us on this daring journey and donate today.

 

We are a nonprofit organization with 501[c] 3 status, and all donations made are tax-deductible.

 

 

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