The Ministry of the People and Social Development is partnering with the Inter Religious Organisations (IRO) to produce senior citizens activity centres in rural areas.
Three pilot centres will be developed in established places of worship, and each centre will cost an estimated $222,600.
This was announced yesterday by the Minister, Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh, at the Ministry’s office on St Vincent Street, Port-of-Spain.
“We want to engage our senior citizens in rural communities. In an effort to do more with the aged, many churches, temples and mosques have approached us saying they want to accommodate senior citizens, but they just don’t have the funds,” Ramadharsingh said.
As many places of worship already have a strong elderly community base, Ramadharsingh said it was sensible to pair with the IRO, and develop their spaces to accommodate the activity centre.
The three pilot centres are Isaiah Temple Spiritual Baptist Church; Gasparillo Jamaat, and Oneness Centre, Penal Ashram. These locations were chosen based on their geographic location. There are plans to build nine more similar centres.
Ramadharsingh estimates that creating an activity centre in these places will cost a total of $667,800.
These centres will cater for citizens over the age of 55, and encourage an active and healthy lifestyle.
Ramadharsingh expressed concern about the high level of non-communicable diseases that are affecting the aged in the country.
Presently, Trinidad and Tobago has an ageing population with an estimated 140,000 citizens over the age of 60. Approximately 88,000 of them have non-communicable diseases, or lifestyle diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
Ramadharsingh wants the activity centre to be both a social place, and a place where the senior citizens could exercise and develop healthier habits.
The Ministry will donate $70,000 to furnish the centres with equipment like computers, televisions and exercise machines.
Ramadharsingh said it is imperative for the senior citizens to challenge their minds and learn new technologies.
The equipment the Ministry will provide will allow the senior citizens to have virtual tours of the world and learn about technology.
Ramadharsingh further stated that aside for the religious bodies, he wants to engage with the NGOs to develop similar centres as many persons may not be religious, but would still need an activity centre. Leaders of the three places of worship thanked the minister for giving them the opportunity to develop their space into a centre for the aged.
Imaan Nizam Mohammed from the Gasparillo Jamaat said his community is 150 years old and the physical infrastructure is 70 years old.
He said his community is an aged one, and they recently lost five of their elderly members. He said they are lucky to have the chance to develop their centre so that it can assist their aged members.