The elderly are the true treasures in our communities and should be cherished, says parliamentarian Dale Marshall.
For that reason he has embarked upon a programme to recognize senior citizens within communities in St. Joseph, the constituency he represents.
Louise Alleyne of Branchbury No 3, was the first person visited by Marshall and his team. The still lively 103-year-old is adored by her family and greatly respected in the small community in which she lives.
Marshall chose National Heroes Day to start the programme because of the symbolism involved.
The former Attorney General said in the same way the country reflects on that day about the deeds of our ten national heroes to uplift average Barbadians, he wanted St. Joseph residents to reflect on the contribution and sacrifices made by their foreparents like Alleyne, and to emulate them.
“In fact it was the residents of Branchbury who gave this idea life when they asked me about recognizing Alleyne. She is a treasure to that community,” said Marshall.
The MP also said that Alleyne, whose last birthday was in January, was chosen because her family treats her extremely well, and he wanted them highlighted as an example of what more Barbadian families should be doing.
“The care of our elderly is an aspect of Barbadian life that too many families are shirking away from, and that is not right. Louise’s relatives take great care of her, and for this they should be applauded,” said Marshall.
On the visit Marshall presented Alleyne with a hamper of care items and nutritional supplements. He said she was so overawed at the gesture that she began to cry and then started to sing.
“It was quite touching. The fact that she started to cry meant it was very important to her. Seeing her happy like that made me feel really good. To be honest, I too began to get emotional as I have elderly parents,” said Marshall.
The MP said in a matter of weeks he will be celebrating the life of another centenarian.
“St. Joseph has a wonderful history of people living past a century. There are about four or five of them right now. There are community treasures. I propose to visit them all and then other seniors,” said Marshall.
The National Committee on Ageing in a statement last May revealed there were 114 centenarians alive in Barbados at that time, while 48 others were expected to reach that milestone by yearend.