Malawi youths engage in helping elderly amid COVID-19

An older person from Ethiopia
An older person

It’s not easy for Ester Awanda, 77, to cope with stories of COVID-19 death rates and the growing numbers of patients being admitted daily in a public hospital few meters from her township.

Ester lives in Chilomoni, an outskirt residential in the city of Blantyre. Her main worry is how she is going to protect herself and her 8-year-old grandson whom she shares a house with.

News got her that the virus is commonly attacking older people who have low immunity in their bodies, and that scares her very much because she believes she cannot stand the virus once it hits her.

“I’m aware of the pandemic, oftentimes I feel like I am the next victim. I know a few friends who have gone down with it. I’m trying to protect myself and my grandson but it’s a challenge for me because I don’t have enough resources to hide from it,” she said.

“I solely depend on selling tomatoes and dry fish at a local market, now that the cases are growing, it’s very scary for me to engage myself into the business anymore. My main concern is how I am going to go through this,” she said.

Research is showing that when it comes to COVID-19, older people are especially vulnerable to severe illness. According to John Hopkins Medicine, adults that are 60 and older with pre-existing medical conditions are more likely to have severe illness against other age groups.

In trying to reverse the problem in Malawi, a group of local young people in Blantyre, Malawi have started an initiative of trying to help needy elderly people with self-protective materials and basics needs in the outskirts of Blantyre city.

Maliko Chikaonga, founder of Dzuka Chilomoni Community Organization (DCCO), said that he is very concerned with how some older people in communities are living and treated during the pandemic. He stressed that his group has noted with regret that some elderly people are being discriminated which he believes might cause serious psychological problems.

So far, the group has distributed a number of assorted items including cloth masks, blankets, bags of rice just to mention a few.

“According to our research, we have found that most elderly people in our community are facing serious problems in trying to cope with the pandemic. Some lack personal protective materials, others do not have simple basic needs and some do not have any emotional support from friends and family, for this reason, we found it needful to outsource resources in order to reverse the situation,” he said.

“We don’t have enough resources to reach everyone in the community, but we are very sure that things will change as we go along. The good part is that we have started,” he said. Enditem

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