Arthur K. Masalley, 71, founder of the National Senior Citizens Organization of Liberia (NASCOL) has urged the government particularly President George Manneh Weah not to neglect Liberia's senior citizens (old people).
He said in an interview yesterday that his organization has carried out an assessment of the plights of 'old people' and has realized that their dire conditions need government's urgent attention.
"While we want to commend President Weah and Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor for the mandate given them by the Liberian people, we want to inform them the old people deserve their support," he said.
He said the previous government, through the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, provided some assistance until the sector was transferred to the Minister of Gender, Children, & Social Protection.
Masalley said while there are three vulnerable groups in the country (children, women, and older citizens), it is regrettable that the older-citizens sector has been replaced with the youth.
"This has been done because the youth can cause noise while the older people keep to themselves, unable to make their voices heard," he said.
Mr. Masalley says the government should provide shelter, food and healthcare for old people.
The NASCOL founder noted while aging is a natural process for anyone living, the George Weah government should not forget that old people also deserve the government's support.
Masalley regretted that in all communities across the country, some old people are branded as witches and are left to face the harsh realities of life.
"When a young woman or man is facing difficulties, they run to a prophet or a medicine man to find out why.
"The prophet or the medicine man always find out that it is too easy for them to make their case by pointing finger at an older person," he stated.
He said while there are many issues that cause economic hardship for young people, including lack of contact, education, and skills, noting that old people are always used as scapegoats and then abandoned.
He said his organization has done an assessment of 12 communities in Sinkor and arrived at a number of 700 old people of both sexes.
The communities include Cabral, Chugbor, Gaye Town, Keyhole, Matadi Estate, and Richardson/Dirthole. The rest are Smythe Road, Tokpa Camp, Tarr Town, Vai/Nippy Town and Yeakpee Town.
The most urgent need for the old people, he said, are shelter, healthcare, food, and clothing. He admitted that in the past material help like clothes had come from the Liberia National Red Cross, for which the organization is thankful.
Masalley said the sustainability of the age and the protection of their rights for inclusion in the development of Liberia should be one of the Government of Liberia's top priorities.
Meanwhile, he has called on anyone interested to assist the elders to contact him on 0776-414-581.
NASCOL is a member of the Coalition of Caregivers & Advocates for the Elderly in Liberia (COCAEL) that consists of 16 organizations that advocate for old people.
A United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 4.5/106 on December 14, 1990, declaring the International Day of Older Persons to be observed on October 1 of each year to raise awareness about affecting the elderly and to appreciate the contributions they have made to society in the areas of education, medicine, economics, science and technology, social services, history and preservation of cultural heritage.