Thank you for visiting the blog for Ipaja Community Link (ICL), a small community-based organisation in Lagos, Nigeria, working towards creating a prosperous, healthy and empowered community in Ipaja.

The main activities of ICL are:
- skills vocational training for women and young people in basic cooking, sewing and bead-making
- youth and community volunteering
- community health education, awareness and support
- community care initiatives

ICL specifically aims to support and empower women, people living with HIV/AIDs, young people, and orphans and vulnerable children.

The following information is representative of the work of ICL and reflects the views of staff, volunteers and those that ICL are working with.

ICL is working hard to make poverty a thing of the past in Ipaja - no one in the community is asking for a handout; they are simply looking for ways to make their lives better, to provide for their families and to secure their future. For more information, please call 0702 969 8523, 0706 155 0665 or 0705 636 9269 (or add +234 if calling from the UK) or email icl@difn.org.uk.

Please read on... (and here's a tip: it might be best if you read from the bottom, for older posts, to the top, for newer posts)...

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Volunteering to help the elderly: Agency for the Aged

Agency for the Aged is a small NGO based on Abesan estate, near Baruwa, which has the unique vision of caring for the aged in their homes and reaching out to elders through meetings, events, exercise classes, information sharing, exchange visits to other elderly groups, concerts and counceling and community health check-up days. In 1986, Mrs Idowu Okusanya, a retired Army Major, set up Family Ark Mission. At first, Mama Major started teaching on adolescent and sexual health issues in schools, but gradually realised that it was the elders - the roots and foundations of Nigerian homes - who she could nurture to become real role models to help the youths to become fulfilled adults. So, in 1994, she started Agency for the Aged under Family Ark Mission and over the last fifteen years has reached out to over 500 elders and currently cares for about 120. As Mama major recently said, "I have thrown my house open to them!", and in answer to what she enjoys the most, "Seeing the elders smiling and laughing (with no teeth!), especially when the laughter is from the heart." She believes that old people love to being reminded of 'the good old days' and so, often, when she reminds them of the past when they are sick, this sickness goes away. Many elders die of loneliness - she recalls stories of elders who died and there bodies lay undiscovered for several days - and so this is where Agency for the Aged comes in; there is someone to say "Hello" and "Good Morning"; someone to show some love.

Mama Major believes strongly that the younger ones of society should take good care of the aged. And that's where our youth volunteers come in. They are on hand to assist Mama Major with home visits and meetings and events and to just generally interact and chat with the elders. Recently the youth volunteers assisted at the 3-monthly Community Health Check-up Day where elders can get their blood pressure and blood sugar checked, have HIV screening, eye tests and see a dentist and an optician - they helped with the registrations, setting up and clearing up, with refreshments and helping the other elderly volunteers from Agency for the Aged and those from the Melvin Jones Primary Health Foundation.

As with other small NGOs in the area, Agency for the Aged faces many challenges. Mostly, the lack of money which is handicapping to Mama Major's programmes, but also the lack of public, community and government awareness and understanding of what Agency for the Aged is trying to do. So, ICL is working with Mama Major to overcome these challenges and help with her plans for the future for Agency for the Aged.

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