The puppet shows are a playful way to introduce the basic rights protected by the Older Persons Act (No 13, 2006) to (often illiterate and indigent) elderly. The shows, conducted by professional actors in Afrikaans, English and isiXhosa, have as their objective the empowerment of elderly people with information on how to access services that are aimed at protecting their basic rights, safety and wellbeing. All issues, problems and questions that form part of most elderly persons’ daily lives, are tackled in a mixture of lighthearted, relatable and familiar story-telling and educational advice. They include physical, psychological, sexual and economic elderly abuse, abuse of prescription and over-the-counter drugs, poverty, health and illness, including HIV/Aids, Alzheimer’s disease and Covid-19, abusive relationships with grandchildren, the trauma of moving to an old age home, the importance of maintaining a social network and membership of a community, budgeting, testaments and financial scams.
The Mapula Trust is currently helping us to get the popular puppet show up in the air, and have South African seniors tune into Piet, Helen, Thabisa and Boetie’s educational stories from the Covid-19-safe, socially distant comfort of their homes.
Progressive new legislation, aiming at protecting senior citizens (+60), was promulgated in 2006 – The Older Persons Act (No 13, 2006). It aims to “Maintain and promote the status, well-being, safety and security of older persons; maintain and protect the rights of older persons; shift the emphasis from institutional care to community-based care, in order to ensure that an older person remains in his or her home within the community for as long as possible; regulate the registration, establishment and management of services and the establishment and management of residential facilities for older persons; and combat the abuse of older persons”.
The Western Cape Provincial Department of Social Development (DSD) aims to relate the stipulations of the national Older Persons’ Act to the elderly in their communities by means of its provincial Active Ageing programme, and has contracted Umnyama to assist with this by means of puppet theater, workshops and research.
An important part of the programme is to offer protection against elderly abuse and to encourage seniors to remain in their respective communities (as opposed to being placed in old age homes).