Elderly upkeep: Gov’t ready to partner and support LEELA Foundation initiative

Minister Sarah Kanyike giving a certificate to a teen for her selfless works. Photo by Nelly Otto.

Civil Application No.22 of 2020 was fil

Indian Ambassador to Uganda, H.E Ajay Kumar: I’m very proud to attend the event and for Juhi’s resolve and initiative to do meaningful contribution to the vulnerable people of this country.”

Kyebando, Wakiso—9 October 2020: LEELA Foundation—a humanitarian non-governmental organization in Uganda continues to support the elderly persons in Kampala and its metropolitan area, including districts like Arua and Lira.

Established in July 2019, its vision is where all communities gain social and economic empowerment, especially the less privileged girls, young women and the elderly.

Juhi Barot, the Leela Foundation founder said: “In fulfillment of this aspiration, the Foundation engages in community service, organizing fun events for children, education, counselling service, and lastly Go Green Initiative.”

Addressing the gathering to launch “Charity from the Heart to the Elderly” program on 9 October 2020, an event officiated by the State Minister for Disability and Elderly, Sarah Kanyike, Juhi added that the occasion we are here for today is something “we have been doing for the last 10 years”.

She told the gathering that they have given a helping hand to over 100 older persons all over Kampala and other parts of Uganda in Arua and Lira.

“The Foundation is destined to great heights in terms of fulfilling each of the initiatives stated above. The founder leadership has made its contributions for the last 10 years,” she directed this message to the Minister.

Boxes containing assorted food items for elderly and vulnerable persons donated by LEELA Foundation. Photo by Milton Emmy Akwam.

According to Juhi, whose father Harshad Barot founded Tirupati Development Uganda Ltd, they believe it’s time “we concretely partner together to achieve these initiatives particularly, the initiative extremely close to my heart “Charity from the heart””.

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The Foundation founder says they would like to be part and parcel of the partnership the government may need in terms of Social Assistance Grant for Empowerment (SAGE) and the disability fund.

“Honourable Minister, we have plant to reach hundreds of thousands across the country but we have limitations and we would like to have a close guidance and assistance,” she added.

Sarah Kanyike, State Minister for Disability and Elderly who launched and commissioned the charity programme says she’s happy to note that this is coming at the time Uganda is concluding the commemoration of the International week for Older Persons in which we review efforts geared towards improving the lives of Older Persons.

She says, according to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, older persons in Uganda constitute 3.7% of the entire population of Uganda, which translates to 1.6 million people.

“Older persons in Uganda face numerous challenges ranging from increased ill health, especially heart related diseases, non-communicable diseases, poor nutrition, elder abuse, among others,” she added.

Minister Sarah Kanyike cutting a tape. (R) is Indian Ambassador to Uganda H.E Ajay Kumar and behind the Minister is RCC Kawempe Division Mr Hud Hussein on Friday (Independence day). Photo by Milton Emmy Akwam.

“Further to this, due to urbanization, the culture of traditional care for older persons by extended family members has diminished and you now find many older persons having to care for themselves in addition to taking care of orphans and other vulnerable children with limited sources of income,” the minister said further.

She reveals that situation has been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic which has brought in complications in access to services as many livelihood sources for older persons have been hampered by the COVID-19 preventive guidelines that have brought some restrictions in engagement in productive activities.

The Minister also told the newly appointed Indian Ambassador to Uganda, H.E Ajay Kumar that with all these challenges older persons are facing amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the support of LEELA Foundation comes at the time when it is needed most because this support will shield older persons and their families from falling into deprivation.

“…..the government is aware of these challenges and we are working hard to ensure that older persons are supported, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic. The government implements a monthly cash transfer programme that provides older persons with a monthly cash transfer of UGX25, 000 to all older persons across the country aged 80 years and above. This programme has now been rolled out across the country, including Kampala Capital City Authority,” she added.

“Your Excellency, as we launch and commission “Charity from the Heart” initiative, the lesson we learn and as it has been alluded to by the Managing Director that it does not take us to have so much to do and transform society through the most vulnerable people in our society.”

The disability and elderly Minister further says that little things you do from the heart with the little you have matters so much, quoting Mother Thereza of Calcutta who once said “Never worry about numbers…help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you” or what Mahatma Gandhi said “The simplest acts of kindness are by far more powerful than a thousand heads bowing in prayer”, she (the Minister) added “we need to all start from where we are and do something in the lives of people around us”.

She stated that collaborations like these are crucial in promoting inclusive development in our communities. “Such collaborations should therefore be formalized with the Ministry. I therefore suggest that LEELA Foundation enters a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development to further this initiative and further urge the beneficiaries of this support to utilize it in betterment of their lives.”      

Ambassador Ajay Kumar says he was very proud to attend the event and for Juhi’s resolve and initiative to do meaningful contribution to the vulnerable people of this country.

Only three months in Uganda, Ambassador Kumar says India has a very good diaspora in here (Uganda) who have been successful in various fields. “But not only that, what is more important is not just being successful but to give back to the society who will help you to become what you are today.”

He also says many of the Indians who are successful have been doing these, stating that Juhi has gone one step ahead or beyond them, and she has created an institution, adding that individuals have got own limit compared to institution that is more sustainable.

He called Juhi’s Leela Foundation successful, adding that he knows she will go along “not only in Uganda but beyond Uganda also, beyond the borders of Uganda”.

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Reporting by Nelly Nelson Otto & Milton Emmy Akwam.

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