This September, we join ADI and the rest of the world in observing the Alzheimer's Month in Lamontville; raising awareness and fighting stigma in our communities.
We have targetted outlying communities, schools and local churches in our drive. All the six schools in Lamontville and several church organizations responded favourably.
Here is what has been happening........
21st September 2017 World Alzheimer’s Day
This year we had hoped to stage an even bigger event. Despite the disappointment inflicted on us and the elderly community by Ethekwini Community Participation Unit, they had promised to fund the event to the tune of R65 000, which they in fact secured but none of it was delivered on the day and many elderly people were left without water let alone food. The event was, however, a measured success. Many people had heard about BMF and our work with people living with dementia on the radio - IZWI Lomzansi FM 98.0, and wanted to know more by attending this event.
Those that came were treated to various forms of entertainment by pupils from different schools in Lamontville. Lamontville High Drama Class performed a well received play on dementia. A very brave and clever young girl from Entuthukweni Primary School stole the show by reciting a poem on dementia. Gijima Primary School pupils performed traditional dance and wowwed everyone.
Dr Ngcobo a psychiatrist talked about dementia, what to look out for and what to do when you suspect a loved one or friend is showing the symptoms. She emphasised the importance of early diagnosis (theme for this year).
On hand also were physiotherapists from Clairwood Hospital who talked about the importance of being active even in later years. This is particularly important for people living with dementia too.
A group from Amandlamadala Wellness Association attended the function and showed everyone how the elderly can stay engaged in the community and avoid isolation and loneliness all of which make people vulnerable to developing dementia.
21st September 2016 World Alzheimer’s Day – Lamontville observes
BMF marked the World Alzheimer’s Day 2016 in Lamontville with an event at the Johnny Makhathini Centre. Clients and their carers, invited school children from Gijima Primary School, as well as other invited guests gathered at a location about half a mile away at about 10 am. Some, the elderly, weak and frail, were taken straight to the centre. The short march to the centre was punctuated with singing and short speeches to members of the public. Some of the volunteers gave out leaflets and about dementia.
Here is a clip of the short march to the centre.
For more pictures visit our gallery
The march to Johnny Makhathini Centre
At the centre, there was more singing before proceedings started. Pastor Mhkize led the proceedings and opened with a very powerful call to people to come together and work with BMF in supporting people living with dementia. After the opening, everyone was asked to introduce themselves. The theme of the day was “Remember Me” and some of the carers had brought with them pictures of their loved ones who had passed away.
Since we started working in Lamontville, May 2015, a number of our clients have passed on. Four of those who cared for them gave short but very moving speeches sharing their experiences and how they came to work with BMF in the final days of their loved ones. These included Zethu, a founding member whose mother’s passing away from Alzheimer’s led her to founding the organization.
Singing, poems and drama
A choir of young people came up with new songs that addressed the way dementia was perceived in the community.
Two school children from Gijima Primary School read poems about dementia. They had designed the World Alzheimer’s Day banner for BMF and this event generated a lot of onterest in the school. Plans are underway to stage some activities together just before school breaks up in December.
BMF volunteers staged a short sketch on dementia aimed at dispelling the many misconceptions and myths. This was a hit with the audience and everyone loved it. It brought home the truth about the perceptions and dealt with them in an easily digestible manner.
Those Living with Dementia
Testimonies were heard from those living with dementia. They talked about the impact the condition has had on them and their families, how they had lost hope. They talked about the support they get from BMF and how it has helped restore some dignity and quality into their lives and those of their loved ones. Working with BMF has helped them deal with the stigma not only from the community but also from their relatives and friends. Now they are able to confront these issues from a position of strength and knowledge.
After the carers, the floor was open to anyone who wanted to say something.
The closing and Food
Mr Nkosi, a member of the BMF management committee thanked everyone who had made it and all those that had made this event possible. These included, BMF; The KZN Mental Advocacy Group which provided the T shirts and caps and one of the banners; Gijima Primary School for attending and designing and making of another banner; the nurses from the local clinic who took this opportunity to work with the elderly clients who had attended; the administrators of the Johnny Makhathini centre who provided us with free use of the venue and the police who gave us advice and support during the short march. He also thanked the caterer, Senzi Sosibo, whose father was a client of BMF and recently passed away; she provided her services for free. The food was delicious and people had a chance to meet and talk to one another.
It was a great day and represented a giant step in raising dementia awareness in Lamontville.
Gijima Primary School- 12th September 2016
On the 12th of September, we visited the first school, Gijima Primary School. The Principal, Mrs Mbatha welcomed us and gave us a slot during the morning school assembly.
The children were excited but the listened intenty as they were told that they'd be asked about the presentation in class. The staff appreciated this very much and asked some very useful questions.
Mrs Mbatha encouraged any children who had concerns about relatives to approach their teacher who will get in touch with BMF on their behalf.
The school agreed to prepare some banners for use on the 21st, during our Remember Me event.
They pledged to work with BMF to raise awareness in the surrounding community.
Welbedacht Mobile Clinic - 1st September 2016
Our Alzheimer's Month activities started with a visit to a mobile health post that comes to a local community weekly in Welbedacht, Chatsworth.
Nodumo and Nwabisa were invited by the Nurse in Charge to talk to patients visiting the clinic on the 1st of September. On this day there were about 30 people and no one had heard of dementia before the talk.
However, like in so many of these events, at the end Nodumo asked if anyone knew of anyone who showed similar symptoms that she had mentioned, and almost two thirds said they did.
Our team distributed leaflets and asked anyone with concerns to contact us for more information and advice.