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AWRIGHT DEN: Elderly deserve better

COREY WORRELL, [email protected]

AWRIGHT DEN: Elderly deserve better

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I AM VERY UPSET and although I have waited weeks to write this article, I am still very upset. It is my hope to address a situation that in my opinion is an utter shame.

I stand today and apologise for the way we as a nation treat the elderly. The privileges, comforts and opportunities we enjoy today are all possible because of them. Our lives are better because of their sacrifices, hard work and their priceless contributions; yet our reward to them is a reflection of apathy and selfishness.

One day while in the Warrens area, a lady told me about a situation that troubled her deeply and asked if I could write about it. She proceeded to show me a picture of an elderly man standing in the middle of the road behind the KFC and CGI buildings. I asked her why he would do that. She proceeded to tell me he became disoriented and was totally exhausted and tired due to having to walk from the bus stop outside the Warrens Polyclinic to the Warrens building to get an ID card, and then to walk back. Mind you, this old man had a cane and he did this in the blazing midday sun. After doing some investigation, I was shocked to learn that this was the only place in Barbados where you could get a Barbadian ID card.

Even though I believed the lady, I decided I needed to see it for myself. For a few weeks I went in the area and sat down by the doubles vendor and observed. I will confess, my heart was filled with grief and compassion each day

I sat there. Day after day, many elderly people, who displayed signs of pain, exhaustion and discomfort, made the long trek for their ID cards; some of whom were wet from the rain due to no adequate places of shelter.

On Tuesday morning, I parked my car in the Warrens Dome car park, crossed the road to the bus stop and walked the entire journey to the ‘ID card building’ and back. It took five minutes to get to the ‘Al Barrack building’ and another six minutes to the ‘ID card building’ – a total of 11 minutes and a distance of approximately 0.4 miles or 644 metres (one lap around the Stadium track is 400 metres). I started around 9:15 and the sun wasn’t hot, but I still sweated somewhat. Could you imagine an elderly person having to walk that distance in the midday sun?

During the walk, I stopped and talked to persons about their feelings at having to make the journey and they said they were very upset and felt no one cared. To add insult to injury, two women were perturbed that they would have to repeat the journey again since ID cards are no longer posted to you.

Here are my suggestions:

1. There should be a ‘main’ location in Bridgetown where people can get their ID cards, or better yet, at various locations across the island, similar to the locations where you can pay your road tax or renew your driver’s licence. 

2. Signage needs to be installed on the roads and the buildings urgently, since there is none anywhere to direct people where to go. Imagine I found out on Tuesday that the ID card building is called Warrens Tower 1 and the Al Barrack building is called Warrens Office Complex. Also, those signs should have information on them as to what business takes place at the building. Imagine one woman said she went to the Baobab building by mistake and had to walk from there all the way to Tower 1.

3. Zebra crossings need to be installed, especially at the roundabout.

4. Extend the Eden Lodge bus route to include circling the Warrens Office Complex area, inclusive of the roundabout by Tower 1.

5. People should receive their ID cards the same time.

What we currently have is totally unacceptable and shows little care or concern for the public who have to take public transportation, especially the elderly.

There is so much more I can write with regard to the way we treat our aged citizens. Nonetheless, through my NGO I have a project being developed, which will help make their lives much more comfortable and enjoyable. I look forward in a few years to making my contribution to the elderly.  

• Corey Worrell, a former Commonwealth Youth Ambassador, is director of C2J Foundation Inc., a project-based NGO focusing on social development. Email [email protected]