Young and old join hands
The team from Parktown Girl’s High

On Monday morning, 3 December, a very excited group of girls from Parktown Girls High gathered in the dining room of the Meals on Wheels For the Aged branch in Rifle Range Road, Johannesburg. They had their aprons tied around their waists, ready for their ten hours of community service. It was a special day today – Christmas hamper day.

The van was stacked full of boxes packed with special goodies for Christmas. The girls got into the cars with the drivers and “hoppers” and off we went.

As the girls knocked on the doors, senior citizens opened and received the hampers with tears of gratitude and warm hugs. The pupils were invited into many homes to sit a while and chat while refreshments were served. It was obvious that contact with these vibrant youngsters had great meaning to our “old friends”. We knocked on the door of one grey haired lady. She thanked us for the hamper and then showed us that she had no food in her home, not even a slice of bread. She was desperately hungry. The girls immediately set about putting a meal together – their first “meal on wheels.” Tears flowed as this dear little lady thanked the pupils and expressed her gratitude to the Meals on Wheels volunteers and supporters.

The Christmas Hamper Delivery Crew paused for a moment during the day’s busy schedule.

As the girls went from home to home they became quieter and more subdued. Never before had they experienced such poverty and need – the need for basic necessities and love. At the end of the day they all asked if they could go out on a Meals on Wheels delivery again next year as part of their community service project.

Thanks to you, Meals on Wheels is changing the lives of young and old.

Food For Thought
• “The mouth of an elderly man is without teeth, but never without words of wisdom.”
• There’s no place like home . . . except Grandma’s!
• If I had known grandchildren were this much fun I would have had them first!
• Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them. James   Baldwin
• A grandmother is a babysitter who watches the kids instead of the television.
• ”A village without elderly is like a well without water.” – (Nilotic proverb)
• “If you have a lot, give some of your possessions; if you have little; give some of your heart.” – (Nilotic proverb)
• ”Youths talk first and then listen, the elderly listen and then talk”. – (Nilotic proverb)
• “The men are the wool of the tribe, but the women are the ones who weave the pattern.” – (Arab proverb)
• The youth walks faster than the elderly but the elderly knows the road.- Nilotic proverb.
• ‘Authority is in generosity.’ Tumbuka proverb
• Grandmothers are angels in training

Useful Websites
Exercise for the elderly:
Do you ever feel the need to improve your fitness? This website discusses various exercises that may be used by those who are getting on in years. There are many simple ideas on how to keep healthy, how to eat right, and how to prevent illness.
www.exercise.about.com/cs/exseniors

Family matters:
If you are interested in any topic related to the family, this is the site to visit. It includes ideas to keep the children busy during the holidays, various controversial issues, and much more.
www.family.org

Putting the joy back into Christmas
Children’s laughter filled the air. An atmosphere of joy characterized the gathering on the lawn. The tables were laden with food and delicacies. Cheerful music rang out from inside . . . Across the street Mrs. O., a lonely grey haired lady of eighty-three, watched from behind semi-drawn curtains . . . but her mind was far away – lost in memories of happy days – lost in memories of happy Christmases that she had spent with her own family. And here she was…alone, with little more than a simple Christmas meal of tinned food and bread to look forward to.

Mrs. O’s experience is typical of the experience of thousands of Senior Citizens . . . But a wonderful group of people are making a huge difference.

The festive tables at the Alberton Christmas function.

Thanks to you, our loyal supporters, over 20,000 Senior Citizens were entertained this past Christmas at more than 80 special Christmas functions throughout the country. Besides the sumptuous spread and special entertainment, our old friends were able to share common interests and to meet new friends. For those who could not attend the functions for one reason or another, special Christmas hampers were delivered to their homes by caring friends.

Words of thanks and praise abounded at every function and at every home, and these we must pass on to you, for it was you who actually made the difference for over twenty thousand Senior Citizens.

How do we say thank you twenty thousand times?

Household Tips
Ring around the collar
Dirty neck rings around shirt or blouse collars can be removed by putting shampoo on them. Rub the shampoo in like you were washing your hair. Shampoo is specifically made to remove body oils. A cheap bottle of shampoo kept by the washing machine is handy for all kinds of stains in clothing. Don’t forget this trick when you are travelling.

Dusting tip
Use paint brushes to dust cracks and hard to reach places in telephones, stereos, etc.

“Today is a gift that’s why it’s called the present.” If you want to feel rich, just count all of the things you have that money can’t buy!

Make a schedule
Set aside a regular short period of time each week for the family to straighten up the house. It teaches good habits to the kids and gives the family a project to do together. Everyone will feel better when the job is done, and might just look forward to the day when they know things are going to be neat and organized.

Listen to books on tape to help you clean
Having trouble finding time to read these days? You can rent great books on tape from the library to listen to while you’re cleaning and doing chores. It helps to pass the time, keeps you working a little longer and lets you catch up on those mysteries you’ve been wanting to read.

Removing candle wax from walls
Candle wax can be removed from walls or other surfaces with an iron and facial tissue. Set the tissue over the wax and gently iron. When the wax seeps through or the tissue begins to brown, apply a new tissue.

Street Pensioner Rescued
Mrs. J., is in her late seventies. She is partly blind and walks with great difficulty. When she found it too difficult to maintain her own home, her children decided to move into her house with her.

All went well until the holidays came around. The children left for the sea and locked the front gate leaving Mrs Jacobs inside the house – with no food and no contact with the outside world. (Can you believe?)

When the children returned from holiday, an argument ensued, and they put Mrs J. out on the street – together with all of her belongings.

A neighbour took pity on her and put her up in an outbuilding. The neighbour also brought Mrs J.’s plight to the attention of the local Meals on Wheels branch.

The Meals on Wheels volunteers are now delivering meals to her cosy new home. As she remarked, “I have everything I could wish for – but the love of my children.

Mrs J. thoroughly enjoys the visits from our “hoppers” and she is a great source of encouragement to the voluntary helpers who pop in to chat every week. She is very grateful for the love and support that she receives.

Our special thanks to you for making it possible for Meals on Wheels to care for people like Mrs. Jacobs.

Branch Profile - Alberton Meals On Wheels
We recently visited the local director of the Alberton Branch, Mrs. Zerie Wessels, and asked her a few questions about the work that her branch is doing in the local community.

How many Senior Citizens do you feed?
We are currently serving about 60 meals a day. On club days, when most of the Seniors come to the center to enjoy fellowship with others, we feed about 100 people.

Where do you get the ingredients for your meals?
Most of the ingredients for the meals are bought from the market. One of our volunteers goes to the market at 5am to pick up produce at the cheapest possible prices. On 9 October 2001 we had our first donation of fresh vegetables from the local market. This helped immensely.

Who cooks and delivers the food?
In our case, the residents of the service center help to cook the food. We also have two staff members who help with the dishing up and delivering. The area we cover is very large. As we have only one vehicle, it takes a long time to complete our deliveries every day. (What a lovely thought – old friends at a service center preparing meals for struggling old friends in the community – whom they may never meet.)

Are there any special stories you can share with us?
Mr G. is 45 and is mentally handicapped. Since his mother died 15 years ago he has been living in a small house near our Service Center. He earns about R1000 a month by working in a nearby factory. His house is in an immaculate condition. He has adopted Ria, one of our administrative staff, as his surrogate mother. When he feels lonely he pops in to chat and then he will point to the tearstains on his cheeks and tell how sad he feels. After receiving a kiss on the cheek and a warm hug he is satisfied and only then will he leave – a happy man. Mr G. loves visiting with the staff and enjoys the meals very much.

What are your most urgent needs at this time?
We are in desperate need of a new computer to help with the administrative side of our work. The computer we have at the moment is very old, very slow, and it isn’t functioning well at all. A new computer will definitely make our work much easier.

What are your plans for the future?
In this New Year we are planning to expand our services with a view to being of more help to the community that we serve. One of our plans includes a patient recovery ward – where patients who have been discharged from hospital can spend a few days while they rest and recover.

Would you like to pass on a message to our supporters?
Our heartfelt thanks go out to our supporters. Their financial support motivates us to do even more for the Senior Citizens who need our help. It is a source of great encouragement to know that there are people out there who are so interested in our work. Thank you very much.

Our visit to Alberton was wonderfully fulfilling. We left the branch feeling very good about the fact that Meals on Wheels is making such a difference in the lives of the elderly folk around them.

Meals on Wheels For The Aged
National Public Relations Office
PO Box 700, MEYERTON
SOUTH AFRICA, 1960
Life support: 086 00 00 700
Fax: 086 76 75 019
www.mowglobal.org