In a world of uncertainties, one thing we can be sure of is the fact that as we grow older our need for help will increase, and in some cases, will develop into our complete dependence on others.
The Malta-born population in Victoria is ageing at a very fast rate. Currently there are just under 23,000 persons in this category, and the majority of them have already reached retiring age. Many are already in nursing homes or require nursing care.
It has always been a Maltese tradition that we look after our elders for as long as we can. This very laudable attitude, however, has become more and more impracticable in view of the almost total disintegration of the extended family, resulting from long distances between the parental home and the residence of the children. Australia is not Malta, and it is not just a matter of popping over next door to see what the oldies are up to.
It is, therefore, with increasing urgency that the MCCV feels that there is a need for establishing an elderly visiting program with the aim of organising volunteers who would be willing and committed to spend some time visiting older members of the Maltese community wherever they happen to be, in their own homes or in nursing homes, for an hour or so, just to have a chat in Maltese and reminiscing about their younger days in Malta.
One is surprised to see what a psychological difference such a visit could make to a person who is spending all day cooped up in a bedroom at home or surrounded by persons who cannot speak a word in Maltese.
It is unfortunate that many of those in need tend to “disappear” from the community with no trace. It is, therefore, the responsibility of every member of the Maltese community in Victoria, and in particular, every association affiliated with the MCCV, to inform the MCCV of any person who might benefit from such a visiting program.
The first step in this setting up this program is to develop a list of all those persons who might be requiring such a service now or in the near future, thereby getting a better idea of the real demand for such a community service. Staff in our Welfare department will establish and maintain a database to include all those who have shown an interest to participate in this project and who would like to have someone to talk to every now and again.
The next step of course will be the organising of a team of persons who agree to participate in the program by spending some of their time as volunteer visitors. Anyone who would like to be considered for this humanitarian task should contact the Maltese Centre (9387 8922) as a first step in this direction.
You who are reading this message could be in need of such a service yourself in 5-10 years time! It is by acting together that we can make this project successful. Your help would be greatly appreciated.