For the young at heart: Egypt's first senior citizens rally

Salonaz Sami, Monday 24 Oct 2022

On Saturday, Golden Years Community Egypt held its first seniors rally under the title of, "Walk the walk, Al-Harka Baraka," at the Merryland Park in Heliopolis.

For The young at herat

The rally was held under the supervision of the ministries of social solidarity and youth and sports.

The day started at 10am and, following a brief warm-up session with Cairo Runners coaches, participants walked around a 400-metre looped track for as long as they could, among the beautiful green scenery.

"Around every corner you would find volunteers waiting to cheer you up and give you the push needed to continue," said Nadia Abdel-Wahab, a 65-year-old participant.

"I have finished three laps already, and I am feeling great," she added.

The day also marked the official launch of the Golden Years Foundation for community development.

The community started two years ago as a Facebook group created by the incredibly talented and energised Dina Hashish during the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and became a huge success in no time.

The foundation is dedicated to changing the dialogue about seniors in Egypt through promoting healthy aging, physically and socially. Their activities include building social awareness about old age, providing support for families and caregivers and connecting seniors with services tailored for them in all aspects of life.

"Dina is such a fighter," said 70-year-old Magda Khalil, of the Golden Years Community. "She is constantly working and coming up with ideas to improve seniors' life in Egypt," she explained.

"We are now working closely to improve the lives of our members, and we hope one day we will be able to expand on a much larger scale," said Khalil.

Hashish is an established corporate lawyer and arbitrator who obtained her masters degree from Stanford University. She is the first and only Egyptian to be honoured by the UN Healthy Aging Initiative, placing her among 50 global leaders transforming the world to be a better place to grow older.

The rally was a great success and the positivity filled the air.

"No one expected this huge turnout," said Khalil. "We were just discussing it yesterday, and we thought that if we had a 1,200-1,500 participants that would be a great turn out," she added. "But no one expected this," Khalil explained.

"The rally's idea is a great one for lifting up the spirits of our beloved seniors and encouraging them to go outdoors and enjoy all the fun activities the rally offers" said Amira Ibrahim, who attended with her mother and two aunts.

"We all had a lovely time at this amazing family-friendly event. Well done to everyone involved," she added.

The legendary composer Hani Shenouda volunteered to perform with his band, which was a genuine bliss for the young at heart, who sang and danced to his beautiful nostalgic songs. Among the attendee were writers Ibrahim Abdel Meguid and Fatma Naaot and TV presenter Bothina Kamel.

"The walking rally was easy and relaxed and specially designed for seniors, allowing them to walk at any pace and for any length they want. Wheelchairs were also available instantly, when needed," explained Fatma Mobarak, a participant in the rally who accompanied her 82-years-old father.

"As soon as they saw that my father needed a wheelchair, volunteers brought us one in seconds," Mobarak said. "I have never seen my father that happy in a long time," she added.

The Golden Years Community started as an online group focusing on seniors in Egypt. It provided a list of products and services, like health care and social services, that cater to seniors in an aim to improve their quality of life.

"But the main purpose of the group was to help seniors connect and form new friendships, and to find a place where they can find the advice and help they need. Today, the Golden Years Community members are literally a family," said Khalil.

Moreover, the community offers online yoga, breathing and art classes every month in addition to a lively book club that discusses new books. On the first Monday of every month, all group members hold a Zoom meeting to chat and check up on each other. The community also provides virtual live interviews with physicians and therapists to provide help and advice.







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