Raising a Generation

Community in Rwanda

It takes a village...

As we continue to experience an increase in Dementia in our society, it is ever more pertinent and important to continue sustaining community spirit, to halt the demise and melting away of the ‘village’. We need to focus on building Dementia friendly communities based on the foundations and positive characteristics of villages.

Below is a blog by May Mak, a former volunteer with the Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) whose mission is to ‘bring people together to fight poverty’. May transfers her experiences in Rwanda during her VSO years to reflect on her 'village' at home in the UK. May is also one of AevaCare's resident blogger.

There is a great African proverb that states, ‘it takes a village to raise a child.’ It has been my experience that ‘a village’ is key to raising not only a child, but also perhaps in raising the elderly too.

Generally, we tend to say we ‘raise’ children, but we ‘care for’ the elderly. It may sound patronising, and I am not equating a child to an older person, but I believe we never stop being ‘raised.’ Learning is lifelong and hopefully, we both support and are supported in the process.

I live in a community where my immediate neighbours are all beyond their retirement years. A few doors down, there are those of the younger generation; families and young professionals – so I do not live in a retirement village. I have lived here long enough to see neighbours grow older, deteriorate in health, carer visits increased and unfortunately, even the passing of members of my ‘village.’

Despite this, I am always amazed by the resilience of my elderly neighbours. One older gentleman, plays golf regularly and tells me sadly that his golfing circle decreases with each month that passes. He shrugs it off and says, ‘it will be my turn one day, but until then, I will keep playing.’ Golf is his love, but he always has time to help around the house or the gardens of our other neighbours. He remains part of my village and is being raised by it too.

Another neighbour, a widow whose husband passed over 10 years ago, speaks to me of the loss she still feels and the ailments associated with age. She often reminds me to be as active as I can, whilst I can. Up until recently, before her hands began to fail her, she would knit and crochet beautiful items to raise money for various charities. She is part of my village and is being raised by it too.

I know that I am fortunate enough to get on with my neighbours. My community, my village is one that supports each other. And, just as they have built into this village of ours, I hope that as winter settles in, I will remember to visit my elderly neighbours a bit more, to catch up on ‘life,’ check-in and offer a hand where needs be.
It takes a village to raise a generation...