(left photo) Residents of Haven for the Elderly dancing with gusto captivate the attention of (left to right) Usec. Parisya Taradji, Region IV-A Director Leticia Diokno and Tanay City Municipal Administrator Dr. Gabriel Pigging.
(right photo) Happy senior citizens pose inside their cottage in Haven for the Elderly at Tanay.
What is more painful for an 80 year old elderly than to be abandoned by the very persons whom he thought would care for him in his twilight years?
Such is the case of Lolo Dominador Estrada of Pandacan, Manila. After he lost his wife in a hit and run accident in 2010, he also slowly lost his five children who left him one after the other. With no one to depend on for his daily survival, Lolo Dominador was forced to roam around scouring for leftover food from piles of trash on the road. With old age already taking its toll on his health, Lolo Dominador slowly lost his normal mental functioning. He wandered aimlessly around the city. Concerned citizens took pity of him and brought him to the Haven for the Elderly in Tanay, Rizal, one of the three centers for abandoned older persons managed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). The other two are the Golden Reception and Action Center for the Elderly and other Special Cases (Graces) in Bago Bantay, Quezon City, and the Home for the Aged in Regions IX and XI.
Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon Juliano Soliman said that Lolo Dominador is just one of the many elderly people who are being abandoned by their loved ones. To date, the DSWD is serving 401 abandoned older persons in the three centers. The Haven for the Elderly which was established three years ago has 141 abandoned elderly residents aged 60 to 104. The seniors at the three DSWD centers are apart from the abandoned older persons staying in centers managed by non-government organizations and local government units.
“We recognize that though we Filipinos really care for our elders, there are factors that also drive families to abandon their elders especially if they are already sickly and can no longer function normally,” Secretary Soliman said.
Secretary Soliman explained that only three years in operation, the Haven for the Elderly provides various services to make the elderly feel secure as they reach their golden years.
Home away from home in their twilight years
True to its mandate as a social institution, the Haven for the Elderly provides high quality services for neglected, abandoned, and homeless Filipino senior citizens. Among the services at the center are home-life, dietary and health, spiritual, livelihood, socio-cultural, and recreational services.
The center has complete medical staff that includes resident doctors, nurses, nutritionists, psychologists, and houseparents who look after the elderly residents’ nutrition, health and well-being.
The Haven for the Elderly resides on acres of lush gardens with views of rolling mountains surrounded by trees providing healthy and nurturing environment for the elders. It also promotes balanced lifestyle by fostering independence and providing social care. At the center, residents are encouraged to hone their skills, trying their hands at gardening, poultry raising, and craftsmanship.
Lola Juana Troyo, an 84-year old native of Leyte and one of the 141 elderly residents of the center expressed, “ Laking pasasalamat ko sa DSWD dahil tinangap at kinupkop nila ako. Mag-isa na lang ako sa buhay, wala na akong pamilya. Nang ako ay magkasakit dahil wala na ngang mag-aalaga sa akin, lumapit ako sa DSWD at dito ako dinala. Ngayon, magdadalawang taon na ako dito, masayang-masaya ako at kuntento sa serbisyo na ibinibigay ng DSWD (I am very thankful to DSWD because they accepted and took care of me. I’m already alone and I have no family to go to. When I got sick, the DSWD brought me here at Haven for the Elderly. Now, I’ve been staying here for almost two years and I am truly happy and contented with the services of the staff of DSWD).
Lolo Dominador said that his stay at the Haven for the Elderly made him forget the weariness of life because of the various productive activities that the center provides.
“Dito, hindi ako nababagot dahil nag-aalaga ako ng manok at nagtatanim ng gulay at halaman” (Here, I do not feel bored, I am raising poultry and planting vegetables and other crops), he happily shared.
According to Ricky Bunao, Head of Haven for the Elderly, “Improvements of our facilities are being done to sustain the physical, social, emotional, and mental functioning of the elderly residents. We also undertake researches on effective strategies, innovations, approaches, and techniques along rehabilitation of older persons. Activities aimed at enhancing their vocational skills to encourage them to become productive are also being done.”
He said, “We continue to coordinate with local government units to find their relatives and be re-united with them. If the relatives cannot take their elders home, they can come and visit them.”
With the efforts to improve further the services of the center, Bunao is hopeful that the seniors here would somehow be able spend their twilight years meaningfully and with dignity.
On April 22-25, the Haven for the Elderly celebrated its third anniversary with the theme, “Nagkakaisa sa Maayos at Mahusay na Paglilingkod sa mga Nakatatanda.” The theme demonstrates the overwhelming support of the different partners of DSWD in taking care of the underprivileged older persons. One can observe the genuine compassion of the volunteers and partners as they interacted with the elderly residents all throughout the program.
Through the years, these partners shared not only material things but also their time and effort. Some partners would go to the center to conduct parties for the entertainment of the elderly residents. Others would go there to help the caregivers feed the bed-ridden seniors and to conduct medical mission. Still others would go there to give livelihood skills training for the still physically fit senior residents.
In recognition of the invaluable support of partner-non-government organizations and individuals to the center, the DSWD handed them awards of appreciation. The DSWD awarded an individual sponsor, Ms. Arlene Timog, who has supported the center for more than eight years. Ms. Timog said she believes in giving without expecting something in return. It gives her joy to help especially the elderly.
Other activities that marked the center’s third anniversary celebration were tree planting, livelihood product exhibit, wellness-activities, photo and video exhibit, mass, launching of convergence extension office and sports fest for the staff and the elderly. ###