had become silent.
politicians acted the same towards people of her age. They saw
no point in paying attention to the elderly, most of who did
not vote at election time. After fifty years of hard work and
family care Carmen, and thousands like her, feel abandoned.
They are not even considered as citizens, merely a problem because
of their increasing numbers.
things are changing for the elderly in Callao, the seaport city
near Lima. Around eighty groups of elderly people have formed
an association. To the politicians they say, " You need
us; you need our vote. We don't need you." To their children
they say, " We are an economic part of the family - and
that should be respected".
government's social programmes for the elderly do not go far
enough for the Central Provincial de Asociaciones de la Tercera
Edad de Callao (CEPRATEC). They are only assistance programmes
and the elderly want something much more in touch with their
supported by the Urban Rural Mission (URM) of the World Council
of Churches, began as a meeting place for the elderly, to share
their stories and speak of their sadness. But they have moved
from there. They started a campaign for the establishment of
small clinics staffed by doctors who specialise in preventative
health and care of old people. They had a campaign for free
attendance at the cinema and for free bus passes.
have petitioned the government to enact specific laws protecting
old people, not to be grouped together with sick or handicapped
people, but to be recognised as a specialised group with their
own strengths and gifts to offer the community. They have asked
the local school for training lawyers to support them and provide
them with the legal help they need to get the legislation passed
want to use their vote at election time, use it carefully and
strategically. They want their votes to count.
volunteers began working with the small groups which have spread
so rapidly that in November 2000 a national association of old
people was formed.
Fuentes is busy again. She has her "mesa de travalho".
She is still active in her home but they have to respect her
now - she is also needed elsewhere; she has her own interests
and he campaigns. She is no longer invisible.
volunteers continue to work with groups of older adults. With
other organisations they are forming a new network, "Mesa
de Trabajo de ONGs y Afines sobre Personas Adultas Mayores-Peru"
to improve even further their impact on social politics.