Promoting aging actions in growing global community
Byaruhanga Anthony, Aged 79, is a Munkyole by tribe coming from Ruhaama County, Rwenanura- Kakukuru Town Council in Ntungamo District Western Uganda. He is a Retired Civil Servant and beneficiary of pension funds from the government of Uganda, he has always lived to tell the story of traditional ageing in wisdom which has since transitioned into various roles that he still upholds. Being a former Grade III Primary School headmaster this did not stop him from pursuing and winning over the minds of the locals targeting youth during his earlier active days that have since transitioned to representing older persons in Ntungamo district sitting as District councillor for Older Persons. He values his previous years’ experience as a Parish chief as well as a data collector and always provided information related to issues encountered by older persons in his county.
According to Mr. Byaruhanga as quoted “I may be old by age learning new approaches to guide me makes me grow young in reason and stand up for my fellow older people ‘’this has enabled a sense of hope generated with positive connections that create self-esteem and self-efficacy in Advocacy, lobbying which he attributes to the training conducted by Uganda Reach the Aged Association (URAA).
URAA Training enabled him to reach out to older persons in his areas of operation, and share appropriate information guided by the information provided, district work plans, programs, and projects that target old people’s participation in order to address older person concerns such as health, Social Assistance Grants for Empowerment (SAGE) funds in Kakulu cell, and Kitashekye ward. This was done through village meetings, community campaigns with fellow older people with their guardians as well as hosting door-to-door visits to older persons in general as well as those with disability. Aiming at supporting those deprived of essential services, working with trusted leaders to advocate for their needs at both sub-county to the district level.
Mr. Byaruhanga feels accountable to the older people as he continues to provide guidance and educate members on how to follow-up services, and which offices to visit for inquiries. Older persons have been given positions in various Health, Works, and Security Sectors in the District Committee Meetings where Mr. Byaruhanga takes advantage of delivering the issues of older people from his community, thus attracting district technical and planning committees to consider the inclusion of older people issues in the planning.
Older people and Persons with Disabilities from Ruhaama have benefited from the advocacy of proper infrastructure setting through the construction of ramps at public offices. For instance, banking agencies like Centenary bank which had accepted to lower the height of Automated Teller Machines with agents guiding in technology used to enable Special Interest Groups to get access to these services.
As a united team with other Special Interest Groups such as Women, Youth, and Persons with Disability leaders, Older Persons councillors have presented petitions jointly to the District leaders, Cabinet Ministers and the Members of Parliament representing Ntungamo district.
Mr. Byaruhanga is optimistic that the future of older persons is promising given that Older Persons are enjoying a cordial working relationship with other leaders of Women, Youth, Persons with Disability, Workers as well as the District Technical Staff.
Compiled by Anena Anna