Old Age is a Golden Age
Assistance to elderly and vulnerable populations of the Banja Luka region
85-year-old Perka Zorić lives in the village of Verići, in the area of the City of Banja Luka, sustaining herself in a shabby home with a small pension and no assistance.
Although in very poor health herself, until only recently, Perka took care of her 102-year-old friend Trivuna Pilipović, for admittedly, she was in more need of help.
“I’m helping Trivuna, no one else but me is there to help. I cook and clean for her, change her clothes, although she is heavier than me. Together, we share everything, so it's easier.”
It started back in the days of refuge seeking, and now this friendship has grown to become unbroken, with two of them sharing both joy and sorrow ever since.
This moving friendship between two old ladies is a shining example of human kindness and humanity, but sometimes love and good will are simply not enough to overcome all hardships in life. That is why professional assistance to those who are vulnerable and left on their own is very important and much needed.
This need has been recognised by volunteers and social workers with the organisation Partner. In recent years, they have helped more than 70 people like Perka and Trivuna in Banja Luka.
The project titled Old age is the Golden Age was launched so that elderly and persons in need in rural areas would not be left to oblivion and neglect. For them, it is a major obstacle to go and see a doctor or buy food items and medicine. That is why the project has developed a database of all persons in need of this kind of assistance. In order to help the most vulnerable, the project employs both male and female caregivers who themselves were unemployed or socially disadvantaged.
Sandra Radulj is a nurse who has been visiting Perka and Trivuna at least once a week for the last 6 months. Thanks to her visits, these two old women know they are not forgotten and abandoned.
“I help the grannies, I measure their blood pressure, sugar level, go to the store, or drive them to a clinic if they need a medical check-up. I sometimes help with cleaning around the house, wash the dishes and run errands for them. Now I got attached to them, and they are attached to me.”
Samir Omerefendić, Project Manager of Reinforcement of Local Democracy III - LOD III project stressed that together with civil society organisations and local governments, UNDP is working to understand those in need of assistance - those whose voices are rarely heard. “LOD project lays the foundation for a fairer and better society where communities will help the weakest and most vulnerable of its members” said Omerefendić.
Nursing and home visits, transport to outpatient clinics, healthcare centres and hospitals, as well as laundry service, are but few of the services made available to the elderly and vulnerable in the Banja Luka region, thanks to Old Age is a Golden Age project.
Loneliness of the third age can be erased with love, a warm human gesture and kind words. When we have each other, when we share and help, the hardships of poverty slowly fade away. Grief lessens and joy grows. Perka and Trivuna know that the best.
Recognising the importance of this project, the Banja Luka City Administration has ensured co-financing for the project, thus enabling the provision of assistance to those who need it most.
Project Old Age is a Golden Age has been implemented as a part of Reinforcement of Local Democracy III - LOD III project implemented by the UNDP in partnership with the BiH Ministry of Justice and 40 local governments. LOD III project is funded through the EU Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance, in the amount of 2 million Euros.
- Database of 80 beneficiaries in need of care and social assistance prepared
- Six caregivers in need of employment (three full time, three part-time) were hired, as well as two social workers
- Nursing and home visits, transport to outpatient clinics, healthcare centres or hospitals, laundry services, assistance in resolving the status of health insurance or other social benefits (for eligible beneficiaries) provided for 71 persons
- Banja Luka Social Welfare Centre and seven local communities are involved in the project
- Banja Luka City co-funding in the amount of 20%