“Adopt a Grandparent” initiative helps elderly Bolivians cope with hardship

Much like in other parts of the world, many of the elderly in Bolivia have been struggling to cope with the difficult changes brought by the pandemic, such as getting enough food on their tables or sorting out messy bureaucracy to get their relief packages. Living far away from their families is yet another factor making it even more difficult for this particularly vulnerable group to get the support it needs.

Concerned about the situation of his own folks during the quarantine and unable to support them himself because of long-distance, citizen Sergio Royuela reached out to one of his parents’ neighbors to help him. He did the same in his own living block and “adopted another grandfather”.

Thus, a volunteer campaign was born. “Adopt a Grandparent” urges volunteers to help senior citizens if they need safe support. So far, about 20 young people have volunteered to help, said Royuela, who serves as the campaign coordinator.

For most people, the global pandemic causes mild or moderate symptoms but older adults and people with existing health problems have been particularly vulnerable. For many elderly Bolivians, particularly those who are ill, it is difficult to shop for the basics and they are often far from their families.

That’s where the volunteers come in.

Royuela has been delivering food and words of encouragement to 97-year-old Oscar Gemio and 62-year-old Inés Urrelo, who live in a makeshift tent in a small wooded area of La Paz after losing their home in a landslide last year. He has advised them on following the health precautions, including keeping a safe distance from other people.

And the best thing is that word of the campaign is spreading. Other people hearing about the initiative have also been keen to provide their support by donating rice, flour, and other food.

For some, the volunteer work hasn’t been about getting the elderly food but helping them work through the bureaucracy. About one million Bolivians, or nearly 10 percent of the population, are elderly. The government has arranged for aid packages for the elderly, but many poor Bolivians cannot collect them for various reasons. Fortunately, volunteers from “Adopt a Grandparent” are determined to sort out such problems too.

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“Adopt a Grandparent” initiative helps elderly Bolivians cope with hardship

Much like in other parts of the world, many of the elderly in Bolivia have been struggling to cope with the difficult changes brought by the pandemic, such as getting enough food on their tables or sorting out messy bureaucracy to get their relief packages. Living far away from their families is yet another factor making it even more difficult for this particularly vulnerable group to get the support it needs.

Concerned about the situation of his own folks during the quarantine and unable to support them himself because of long-distance, citizen Sergio Royuela reached out to one of his parents’ neighbors to help him. He did the same in his own living block and “adopted another grandfather”.

Thus, a volunteer campaign was born. “Adopt a Grandparent” urges volunteers to help senior citizens if they need safe support. So far, about 20 young people have volunteered to help, said Royuela, who serves as the campaign coordinator.

For most people, the global pandemic causes mild or moderate symptoms but older adults and people with existing health problems have been particularly vulnerable. For many elderly Bolivians, particularly those who are ill, it is difficult to shop for the basics and they are often far from their families.

That’s where the volunteers come in.

Royuela has been delivering food and words of encouragement to 97-year-old Oscar Gemio and 62-year-old Inés Urrelo, who live in a makeshift tent in a small wooded area of La Paz after losing their home in a landslide last year. He has advised them on following the health precautions, including keeping a safe distance from other people.

And the best thing is that word of the campaign is spreading. Other people hearing about the initiative have also been keen to provide their support by donating rice, flour, and other food.

For some, the volunteer work hasn’t been about getting the elderly food but helping them work through the bureaucracy. About one million Bolivians, or nearly 10 percent of the population, are elderly. The government has arranged for aid packages for the elderly, but many poor Bolivians cannot collect them for various reasons. Fortunately, volunteers from “Adopt a Grandparent” are determined to sort out such problems too.

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