The simplest way to serve someone is to show them love, giving your time and offering encouragement to people who are in need. This is the most valuable gift we could have given to our senior citizens. On 18 November 2018, YUVA academy hosted a lunch for the 100 elders at the Saint Jean de Dieu Hospice at Pamplemousses. Together with our family members, staff and YUVA volunteers, we honoured our elders as the wise sages and a goldmine of knowledge in our society by a welcoming speech full of gratitude followed by lunch and some fun activities.
The event was a success as it was well planned and coordinated; each one had their duties and responsibilities prior to the event. Graciously donating their time on a Sunday, the whole team was well connected to the cause and YUVA’s goals. Though participants were not familiar to each other, this strong will to serve others made our senior citizens happy that day. With a good team spirit, positive attitude and professionalism among team members, lunch was served on time for the residents. Also, everyone performed multiple tasks even not assigned to them in order for the staff members and volunteers to have their lunch. Eating together with staff and team members on banana leaf and fingers help us to share our ideas and views and become more acquainted to them in a very convivial and friendly environment. We make sure that no one was left behind.
Lunch at the hospice was a success as we have been able to achieve our goal: to share some memorable moments with the elders, making the residents and staff play, sing and dance and for the participants and volunteers: caring leads to self-development.
However, there are a few weaknesses that have been observed. Punctuality was among one of the issues. Some of the team members and volunteers were late and so, some tasks remained pending-serving food, feeding some of the residents and coordinating the volunteers and staff, but it was solved with the assistance of other volunteers. Due to practical reasons, the seating arrangement in the dining room remained the same as the residents preferred to keep their habitual seat. Also, the food was served in plates and fed with a spoon for the residents rather than on a banana leaf. Almost all residents appreciated the type of food served; a few did not eat at all. Therefore it is very important to know the likes of the residents, their habits and also the time for lunch and tea time as most residents like to rest after lunch and did not stay for the activities. Another difficulty observed is that most residents could not eat the snacks offered as one of the activities, so it has to be reviewed prior to the event with the help of the staff members. Due to imposed seating arrangement from the hospice, we could not rearrange the venue for the activities, so there was a lack of dominoes and cards for fun games to play, so one of our team members started the singing competition.
Though the lunch was a success, there are still some opportunities that can be put in practice to sustain such an important event. It can be supported by other NGOs, Scouts association or students from colleges as part of their community service. It is important for the young generation to be actively involved in civic and social services. So such event-lunch, tea time & activities should be a must once or twice a year. Also make such event sustainable- remembering the senior citizens by sending a wish and their photo on their birthday, celebrating Christmas with a Christmas card and the group photo and some biscuits and other festivals with sweets so that they do not feel that it was a one-off event and were forgotten.
A few threats have been identified, some of the residents were uneasy as all of them do not come from the same social background or share the same vision, so some did not wish to mingle with the team and volunteers or take photos and hence preferred to stay outside. The choice of food (veg/non-veg) can become an issue in such a multicultural group of residents in the hospice. The issue of remaining food should be taken into consideration as it might not go with the sustainable values of YUVA. So the amount of food and type, as well as drink, needs to be reviewed next time.
ZAAHIRAH BIBI IBRAHIM KOHEEALLEE
Student of Certificate I in LSC
School of Leadership & Development