A Unique Christmas for the Elderly

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Mary Ekah
It was stylishly tagged ‘Vintage Party for the Elderly’ and it connoted high quality, lasting value and represented the very best of its kind, particularly at this time of the year. It was the only gift of love that members of the Viva L’Amour Lions Club, Ikeja, Lagos, could offer to these set of people, who are, especially, vulnerable to loneliness and social isolation which often result in serious effect on their health.

The beneficiaries were the elderly from various old people’s home in Lagos while the venue was the Catholic Church of Presentation, Ikeja. So for the Club, it was a great opportunity to take these elderly ones from their very familiar and boring terrain to where they would enjoy the ambience of another environment totally different from theirs.

The Club’s Assistant Secretary/Media Coordinator, Amaka Ohia, described it as yearly event where the elderly are brought away from their normal environment to feel what Christmas is all about in an atmosphere that bespoke of love and care like they have not experienced for a very long time. She said that apart from partying, dinning and winning together with these ones who apparently have been abandoned by their relatives, a party like this makes them happy, feel at home and also feel that they have not been abandoned like it appears. Ohia, therefore, advised that the society should endeavour to care for the elderly as everyone will definitely get to that point in their lives when they would also need someone to care for them.

The Club’s Chairman of Activity, Mrs. Agnes Duke said it took a conscientious and coordinated consultation within and outside the club to put this year’s event together. She said also that the cooperation from the club members and friends as well as stakeholders made it a huge success. ‘The club members were really very supportive and this is a demonstration of the Lions motto, ‘Together we serve better’, so this year we invited senior citizens from Regina Mundi Old People’s Home, Mushin Lagos; St. Leo’s Catholic Church, lkeja; St. Agnes Catholic Church Maryland; Catholic Church of Presentation GRA, lkeja; and St. Thomas Catholic Church Ojodu Lagos, amongst others. In all, we had close to 100 elderly people with Viva L’amour Lions Club members and other Lion members from other Lions Clubs,” Duke noted.

A beneficiary, Mrs. Grace Oshiyemi from Holy Family Catholic Church Festac Town, Lagos she was invited as one of the elderly as the Club do usually invite those above 70 years of age to the party every year. “It been very interesting being at this Christmas party. I look forward to it every year because it affords me the opportunity to meet people and also to see the elderly people like myself and even more elderly than I am, having real fun together. The club is indeed working really hard to put smiles on people’s faces, especially to the elderly who have somehow lost hope of ever being happy again,” she added.
Speaking during the event, the President of the Club, Mrs. Helen Mbakwe, said, “We call it Vintage Party but it’s like a Charismas party for both the elderly in the society as well as members of the club.

Christmas is a period for sharing and today members of the club have put resources together to ensure that the elderly do not just have a nice time today but at the end of the day they would go home with lots of goodies and so we have got here buckets loads with things they would need at the Home. First, we gave all of them the Ankara cloths that they have all made into one form of dress or another. Aside that we have geles, Aso okes, foodstuff, beverages, provisions, packed food, drugs, wheel chairs and diapers that a lot of them would need, all loaded in the buckets. We have also had dance competition with them where the winners won prizes.” While trying to make the elderly happy, it was very obvious the club members were also having great fun as they danced to good old tunes in joyful abundance.

“We do this every year, and when they are happy we are happy, that is why you can see us with our family members dancing so happily. Sometimes you have some personal challenges but when you see joy in someone else’s face, it helps to put joy in yours. So coming here this morning, I knew I was going to see people who would be happy to see us, so it puts me in a happy mood to know that someone would be happy seeing me and it made me eager to see them, it made we love the world, it makes me know that togetherness is the key to life and in life love and charity is important,” Mbakwe noted.

Speaking on the significance of the yearly event, the Chartered President of the Club, Mrs. Tessy Ashiru, said, “Lions Club is a charity organisation and our aim is to put smiles on the faces of people. We know that in the society we have elders, people who are too old to take care of themselves and some of them are living in institutional homes so at Christmas we want to put smiles on their faces. This is a sort of Christmas party, so we treat them to plenty of dances, games and other things so that for few minutes they would forget about the lonely lives. And we do competition so that they interact amongst one another and not only do we give them food and make them dance but they also go home with prizes.

If you look around, you would see them all in the same uniform, these ankaras were bought and sewn by Viva L’Amour Club. The Vintage Party, Ashiru said has been on since inception of Lionism in Nigeria, adding, “My club adopted it and we have never let any president forget as we get a new president for the club every year and these elderly people they look forward to it every year and we have never disappointed them.”