A cry for help from an elderly woman who was burnt with boiling water by her daughter has seen the flourishing of the Amazing Youth and Elderly Development movement, which aims to restore the zeal and dignity of older women and to keep them fit through sport.
The project, started in 2013 in Kwazakhele’s ward 18 by Landezwa Luvuno, 55, has not only spread to neighbouring wards, but has rolled out to other areas such as Zwide, Joe Slovo and Veeplaas.
It has given birth to Sunshine, Liyakhanya and Sinenjongo, which are similar projects.
There are more than 50 older women involved in the programme.
“When an old woman in my area came to me for help after she was burnt with boiling water by her daughter, I said to myself ‘this is a calling’,” said Luvuno.
“An elderly person needs to be loved, respected, and cared for. I have seen that elderly women are made nannies to look after their grandchildren while parents are enjoying themselves at taverns.
“Elderly people should get up in the morning, go and get their treatment and after that go to the gym to keep fit to fight against sickness such as arthritis, heart attacks and strokes.”
Luvuno, a teacher at Joe Slovo Primary School, said she would choose helping older people over her daily job because it was something that she was very passionate about.
“Sport activities that we take part in are indigenous games, stick fighting, netball, skipping rope and soccer.
“We are planning to open a competitive league among ourselves and have weekly fixtures,” she said.
“The biggest need is a multipurpose centre where the elderly women are able to gym, take a shower afterwards and then have a light meal before going home.
“Besides sport, the women also do some sewing and beadwork.
“It would be nice to have a venue were we can do all our activities under one roof. I would like to call upon anyone who has the means to help us achieve this dream to come forward and assist us.
Luvuno said they were using a flat in her yard, but this was cramped.
The Amazing group also needs sporting equipment and a firstaid box.
Luvuno says she has seen a positive change in the lives on many older women.
“Some women were abused emotionally and physically before they came here, but now they know there is a place called Amazing where they can release their stress.”
Phatisa Nongqotho, 64, a mother of two, said she had joined the programme in 2015 after a life-threatening illness and it changed her life.
“In 2014, I was hit by a stroke and soon after I recovered I joined the Amazing group and I have not had a stroke since then,” she said.
“What I like about the programme is that it keeps us fresh. At the age of 64, I can still lift my leg high in the air.”
Mzikazi Nabe, of Kwazakhele, joined the project last year after going on pension.
“When I stopped working I saw that my body was slowing down as it was used to waking up early in the morning.
“Because I wanted to live longer I decided to join other ladies here to do exercises and play netball, skipping rope and soccer.”
“When people see me now, they always ask why I am not ageing,” she laughs.