Namibia: Anker Pensioners' Gardening Project Flourishes

An elderly man leans against a wire fence, joyfully chatting to the security guard. The guard is busy tending freshly planted vegetables in the garden at Anker Clinic.

Anker settlement is located some 50km from Kamanjab in the Kunene region.

Anton Tsuseb (83) overseas the garden, which is neatly tucked away in the corner of the clinic premises.

"We grew up with gardening. A garden-less place is like a place without flowers. When one grows a garden, our hearts blossom too," said Tsuseb.

The garden is an initiative of Ada Ma /Hao senior citizens movement that caters for the elderly community at Anker and nearby farms.

The movement also promotes healthier living for the elderly, especially through the garden project it runs in conjunction with the clinic.

The garden was established in August this year to encourage the elderly to start small gardens at their homes to get exercise as well as healthy food.

In the small plot inside the Anker Clinic, beetroot, onions, carrots and mealies are neatly planted in rows. The #Hoadi Hoas conservancy assists the elderly with transport and financial support to attend events outside their area.

"The economy is down. It's difficult to buy vegetables as Kamanjab is very far. It's very important that we grow our own vegetables as they are good for your health," emphasises Florence /Haoses, a nurse at Anker Clinic.

/Haoses said the garden reduces dependency on the Ministry of Health and Social Services, and promotes a healthy lifestyle among the elderly.

According to Tsuseb, the elderly welcome any help with seed and also need fencing material for the garden.

The //Gaoio Daman Traditional Authority donated an office to the Ada Ma /Hao.

The elderly want to start a soup kitchen to complement the gardening activities.

Manfred Katjeko of Ada Ma /Hao said they intend merging the movement with similar groups at Erwee settlement, to make it easier for organisations such as #Hoadi Hoas conservancy, who regularly assist the elderly, to do so in a coordinated way. The elderly are also struggling with travelling to Kamanjab on a monthly basis to get their government grants, and have urged authorities to bring a mobile pay point to Anker.

They also want water points brought nearer their homes, as some of them are struggling to go to distant points to fetch water.

Philipus Longer, secretary for the //Gaoio Daman Traditional Authority said he was aware of complaints over travelling to Kamanjab to get government grants.

"If we have a NamPost agency at Anker, it will save the elders the trouble," Longer said.

Sesfontein constituency councillor Julius Kaujova said he will respond to the elders once he has consulted the traditional authority.

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