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March 5 2015 | BENIN

A family home for the elderly in Benin, for a culture of closeness, not of throw-away

In Savé, in the heart of the country, they laid the foundation stone of a house of the Community of Sant'Egidio that will soon house some elderly people

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On Wednesday 4 March the entire city of Savé, in the centre of Benin, was celebrating the laying of the foundation stone of the family home for the elderly in the Community of Sant'Egidio. A few elderly people, long-time friends of the Community that can no longer be alone, will live there. They will have a familiar place where to live in the dignity of an age that, even here, in this West African country bordering with Nigeria, begins to be frightening. Many prejudices on the elderly, sometimes considered sorcerers, because - they say – “they live too long". So, what is a blessing risks to become a curse and "blame". But, for some time now, it has not been like that for many elderly people of Savé: with the youth of the community, they have understood that they are important; and they are no longer left alone when in need of help.

The ceremony of laying the foundation stone, held on the ground where the Family Home will be built, was attended by all the authorities of the city, from the mayor to the local Church to the traditional leaders. Everyone partied around this house that will be born under the sign of gratuitousness: the land was donated by a local family and the construction will be possible thanks to a part of the collection that the Communities of Sant'Egidio all over the world gathered to achieve, in Africa, some models of cohabitation among the elderly that can no longer live alone. Houses that are protected by a network of support and attention where young people are in the foreground.

The African continent lives in fact a problem that, until recently, seemed confined within the European or North American countries: the abandonment of the elderly as a result of the increase in life expectancy, a phenomenon which is accompanied by a very difficult condition from the economic viewpoint. Just think of the very small number of existing pensions and their low monetary value.
This was being discussed at a press conference that was held yesterday morning in the house of the Community of Sant'Egidio in Cotonou, the economic capital of the country, while at the same time Pope Francis, from St. Peter's Square, was addressing the problem of the abandonment of the elderly. READ THE WORDS OF THE POPE

The person responsible of Sant'Egidio in Benin, Léopold Djogbédé, presented to the media the Family Home of Savé and launched a campaign to raise awareness about the growing phenomenon of elderly people living alone, the prejudices of which they are victims and the need to build an alliance between generations. The Ministry for the Family of Benin gave its support to the initiative and offered its cooperation with the participation of the woman director of the department for the Third Age.

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