Situated at Tshisaulu village, outside Thohoyandou, the Tshilidzini Society for The Care of the Aged currently looks after the well-being of 115 grannies.
The centre was established in 1984 after local people realised that the older women in the community were spending all of their time at home, drinking large amounts of traditional beer, as they were bored and had nothing to do.
The grannies performing a traditional dance called malende. (Credit: Ndivhuwo Mukwevho/ Health-e )
“We saw that there was a need for us to establish a place where our senior citizens can be taken care of and where they would be kept busy. We provide them with daily meals, an exercise programme, check-ups, sewing and gardening. In fact, we have a garden full of vegetables which started created by the grannies themselves,” said the centre manager Virginia Makhado.
Reading and Writing
Every week day the grannies from Tshisaulu and surrounding villages gather at the centre from 8am to 3pm doing various activities. They can do sewing, traditional dancing, gardening and those that want can even learn how to read and write as some retired teachers have stepped up as volunteer trainers.
“We also do house-to-house visits to the grannies to monitor if they are taking their medication correctly and to check that their medication hasn’t expired because we care about their health and well-being,” said Makhado.
The oldest granny at the centre is 96-year-old Munzhedzi Muvhango, and the youngest is 60.
“As old as I am I can assure you that I am healthy. I do not take any medication as I do not have any old age diseases such as high blood pressure and sugar diabetes because I exercise regularly, eat healthily and take good care of my body thanks to the people here, who make sure that we stay healthy all the times,” said Makwarela Rasilingwani (69), who resides at Itsani village, outside Thohoyandou. “I enjoy gardening more as it provides us with an opportunity to enjoy fresh vegetables. Even the exercises are good, and they also check our blood pressure regularly to keep us healthy all the times,” she added.
The grannies sell vegetables from the garden as well as some of the items they sew and then use the money they raise to fund holidays to other provinces once a year.
“I enjoy the traditional dance activity, as it’s something I grew up doing. The dance helps to keep us fit and healthy. Ever since I became a part of the group I am very happy and healthy as I no longer get bored by just sitting at home alone. Now I have friends and we encourage each other to look after our bodies and keep healthy,” said another granny, Elisa Macheka (73). – Health-e News.