Echoed the ecstatic voices of 25 elderly women (age 55 and above) as they excitedly demonstrate the lyrics of the song. At the center of the merry ambience is Mrs. Victoria Harrison, the party hostess.
In Itedo community of Lagos state, well-being parties are organized and hosted on a quarterly basis by elderly people themselves with the primary objective of improving the well-being of the aged. The parties focus on topics such as nutrition, sleep and rest, participation in social life, nature, physical activities, and music among others.
Mrs. Victoria, a widowed mother of two and grandmother of three, has become a source of motivation for fellow elderly women living in Itedo community of Eti-Osa Local Government Area in Lagos state. As expected, old age comes with challenges that affect physical, emotional, and psycho-social health of the aged. The introduction of the aged well-being party to Victoria’s community sparked the release of a burst of stored energy in her with which she has ensured that elderly women in her community maximally.
“This programme came to our community during the coronavirus pandemic. Because of the lockdown, it was difficult for our children to reach us with food supplies. We were expected to queue to get government palliatives, but we cannot compete with youth who are physically stronger than us. CGE Africa came with provision and envelope (money). They provided everything for us, and we are grateful.”
What commenced as palliative support for elderly women gradually evolved into the establishment of community support groups for the elderly to encourage social inclusion. The 60-year old’s enthusiasm in community mobilization and organization of community women, earned her the well-deserved role of a Party Hostess. As a Hostess, she “makes things easier” for the participants. She regularly checks up on participants, interprets English to Yoruba to enhance understanding, settles conflicts that arise during parties, above all, she ensures the party is truly a safe space for participants. In addition to the moral support that the parties provide, every party is characterized by songs, dance, exercise, tea break, lunch, and stipends for transportation. Without the coordination of great mobilisers like Victoria, the seamless flow of the project in Itedo Community would have been hard to achieve.
The elderly well-being party is an initiative of Center for Gender Economics (CGE) Africa in partnership with ActionAid Nigeria. This project is fully funded by Global Affairs Canada.
“My head, my shoulder, my knees, my toes; my head, my shoulder, my knees, my toes; my head, my shoulder, my knees, my toes; they all belong to God.”