August 5, 2021

Ramallah wants to keep its seniors independent and active

The administrative capital of the Palestinian Authority, despite a painful context, is a finalist in the Wellbeing Cities 2021 initiative (Mieux vivre en ville 2021). It is developing a resilient policy in favor of the health and autonomy of the elderly. Feletcia Adeeb, director of the Forum of Expertise, an innovative center that meets the needs of seniors and encourages them to be creative, explains its purpose.

What does the policy you are developing in favor of seniors consist of?

The Active Aging initiative was launched less than three years ago by the Municipality of Ramallah. She was inspired by the slogan « Leave no one behind » (“Leave no one behind”), promoted by the UN agenda for sustainable development goals for 2030. The city has realized that even if many citizen projects exist, seniors tend to be a little forgotten. Hence the idea of ​​launching this program with a center called Forum of Expertise, in order to give them the opportunity to engage in physical and intellectual activities that keep them in shape and allow them to remain independent.

Is this the only such center in Palestine?

Yes, his approach is unique. There are, of course, retirement homes where the elderly can be accommodated or day care centers. Our center is a community place that meets the needs of seniors and encourages them to be creative. So our members don’t just passively track activities. They think them up and put them in place. We are proud to say that Mme Suad Sifri, who is a volunteer embroidery teacher, is 86 years old, and Mr. Kamal Shamshoum, who is a sports teacher, is 80 years old! Today we have 386 members, but with word of mouth the number keeps growing.

How to explain such a request? Is it due to less family solidarity between the generations?

It is true that, traditionally, in villages, the elderly live under the same roof as their extended family. And that they can benefit from the support of their children. In contrast, in urban centers, life changes. Aging in the city can come with a certain isolation as children grow up and leave home. Most of our members live either as a couple or alone because they are divorced or have lost their spouse. In addition, people do not necessarily prepare for retirement – which, in Paslestine, is taken at age 60, or even up to 65 – which can have dramatic consequences.

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