The journey to Serving Older Persons meet Mr Washipukhu Philemon

Mr Washipukhu Philemon was born in 1946 and is 77 years; he hails from Mbale district where He stays and is married with 7 children. He is a Retired Teacher by profession who qualified in 1968. He attended school up to the Secondary level but later did an Education course at Kyambogo University. For some years He was a classroom teacher and later became a Head Teacher until 2007 when He left and joined Compassion International a child-focused International Non-Governmental Organisation as the Project Director until retirement.

The Journey to Serving Older Persons

Mr.Washipukhu Philemon

Working with Compassion International gave him adequate exposure to helping people, especially the needy, fight for their rights therefore it would be right to note that it is at Compassion International that he interfaced and gained experience in Human Rights Advocacy. Mzee Philemon used his profession to engage in varied community work and this enabled him to get to higher platforms like working with the government where he got to know Uganda Reach the Aged Association (URAA) which further pushed his desire to work with older persons and other special interest groups like Persons with Disability and the youth.  For some years Mr Washipukhulu also served as the Chairperson Land Board in Mbale district and Chairperson Health Centre in “Busui” where he met many older persons and paved a way for them to get health facilities as a priority.

Currently, he represents older persons on the District Council because of his desire to serve humanity, He started serving the older persons and making sure most of their needs at the district level are heard and considered.  When he met URAA and HelpAge he was so impressed that they had acknowledged his efforts and provided him an opportunity to meet other leaders from different parts of Uganda.

In his submission older persons in Mbale District had lost hope but when Government and Non-Governmental Organizations like URAA and HelpAge International came in with different programs their hopes were awakened. “In Busano village, there was a blind old man we visited and his house was down he had no food nor clothing but with the support of government during the World Elderly Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD), he was able to receive items, clothing and his shelter was fully renovated, that gave him happiness and the older persons in the village that they are now thought about.

Benefits of Special Interest Groups (SIG);

To Mr. Washipukhulu, meeting with other SIGs enabled him to get exposure to the issues of older persons from other regions that he was unaware of. This helped him to understand that older persons country wide are discriminated against like other groups. It encouraged him to carry out awareness to older persons about the Social Assistance Grant for Empowerment (SAGE), the process and what they should do to receive it.

Working with other SIGs also brings to the forefront the interest of older persons in various aspects like health and leadership. This has further enabled him to push for their rights at the district level and ensured that they are also included in the budget.

Working with other SIG has also improved his advocacy skills because as trained by URAA and HelpAge when all other special interest groups work together it is much easier to look for funds than working alone as an older person.

Mzee Washipukhulu is also one of the leaders that benefitted from Social Accountability training and awareness which has enabled him to contribute to improving the accountability and transparency of Mbale for social, and economic service delivery by relevant stakeholders, working with other SIG Leaders has also created a stronger bond between the Youth, Persons with Disabilities and Older Persons.

URAA continues to promote capacity enhancement of the Special Interest groups by working, learning, supporting monitoring and coaching their relevant Leaders so as together they can contribute toward a common goal.

Compiled by Martha Amoding

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