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Charity official laments plight of the forgotten

Siteri Sauvakacolo
Thursday, June 12, 2014

SENIOR citizens are no longer a responsibility and many families now treat them as burdens which is really sad, says the president of the St Vincent de Paul Society Fiji/Rotuma, Ben Hazelman.

Mr Hazelman made the comment during the My Capital Treat for senior citizens at the Grand Pacific Hotel on Tuesday.

More than 50 elderly residents of the Father Law Home and St Vincent House in Suva were treated to an afternoon tea by the Ministry of Social Welfare as part of the ministry's effort to recognise senior citizens in the country.

"For some of these senior citizens, we take them in, (their) family comes and promise us they were going to come back and visit, but they never do," Mr Hazelman said.

"This is why I mentioned they are the forgotten lot. We have cases where when they have passed on and we ring their next of kin, they give one million excuses.

"We are happy to give them the dignity they deserve but we make sure we give their families the opportunity but when they don't do it, that's fine and we have the responsibility.

"As the national president, I am referred to as their servant leader, we are servants for the poor."

Mr Hazelman believes this is the time when young people can start giving back to senior citizens.

"I think the main reason is poverty. They can't afford it anymore, don't have proper facilities, they want to give them the comforts but what do they do?

"We don't judge but we make sure we give them the best," Mr Hazelman said.

Minister for Social Welfare Dr Jiko Luveni said the ministry held such events to show the public that senior citizens also wanted to enjoy life and should not be forgotten.

"I'd like to encourage families to organise events in their own communities for senior citizens, they are recognised for the contributions they have made to this country, we need to have in place the support of our communities," Dr Luveni said.

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