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Global Connections

Margie Van Zyl (left) making Global Connections with Debra Rose (2nd from left), Jan Montague (2nd from right) and Rayne Stroebel of GERATEC (right)

Margie van Zyl, Direct of Strategic Partnerships at GERATEC, gave a presentation on Global Connections made to date at the recent IFA conference in Prague.  

The starting point for the Global Connections began in Trondheim, Norway when Margie met with IAHSA’s former Executive Director, Ginger Nuessle, to set up the country support network through IAHSA.  “We started emailing each other sharing ideas and thoughts” recalls Margie.

Following the IAHSA Conference in London in 2009, partnerships began to develop: Staff visited across countries, donated equipment, and supplied one another with training materials.

At the IFA in Prague, Margie made more connections. She is currently working on linking them to organisations in South Africa.  These programs include computer clubs for senior networks in Australia and South Africa, and a project on hope in long-term care in Canada. 

Then there was Jan Montague, President of Whole-Person Wellness Solutions, Inc. and Dr. Debra Rose, professor of Kinesiology Department and director of the Center for Sucessful Aging at California State University, who came to South Africa on holiday early in July.

Margie asked Jan and Debra if they wouldn consider running a workshop for staff in and around Cape Town. They agreed and about 80 nurses, social workers, carers, administrators attended the presentation on 3rd July 2012. Jan presented on Advancing Whole-Person Wellness and Debra on Fall Risk Reduction as a Pathway to Whole-Person Wellness.

They then went to visit Ekuphumleni, an old age home in KwaZulu Natal, and they were able to see first-hand the struggles of South Africa’s ageing.  Jan returned to the U.S. very committed to speaking to people at home to encourage support abroad.

Another successful connection was with Dan Dixon of Guardian Angels of Elk River, whom Margie met in Washington DC.  Volunteers from Elk River had visited Tanzania to work on an elder care project. Dan and Margie have been exchanging ideas and Dan is now raising funds through Rotary and getting matching grants for this project.

“For me the potential is limitless – it just takes passion and commitment!” says Margie. “It is IAHSA that gives the impetus for such global connections.  Thank you IAHSA!”

The Global Connections Program continues to inspire team work.  We look forward to welcoming new connections and international partnerships this year.

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“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”
― Mother Teresa

Happy birthday to GERATEC (Gerontological Research Training Education and Caring), a member of IAHSA, which just turned “sweet 16”!

Under the direction of Margaret Van Zyl, Director of Strategic Partnerships at GERATEC and board member of IAHSA, the organization is well on its way to re-model long-term care in South Africa. Using values of integrity, innovation and “person-centered care”, they are transforming under-resourced homes in isolated rural areas, in a land with few resources but a huge heart. 

Margie Van Zyl getting to know the residents at Emseni Old Age Home in rural KwaZulu Natal, South Africa

Van Zyl is now working on the formation of the South African Care Forum, a not-for-profit, that will build a reputation for quality and best practice in long-term care.  It will influence policy making; be involved in advocacy and lobbying; become a clearinghouse for information, research and best practice; focus on networking and partnerships; and be involved in encouraging research and product development.

A recent success was the transformation of Ekuphumleni Old Age Home in Gugulethu which went from complete lack of maintenance and absence of progress to organized leadership, community involvement and a functional facility.  With the help of the Department of Social Development, GERATEC created a garden, an Eku Boutique, an interactive lounge and personalized living quarters for the residents.

We are very excited about GERATEC’s latest projects: 

  • The establishment of the Eden Alternative South Africa at the end of last year, with Rayne Stroebel, the Eden Alternative SA Coordinator
  • The development of Huis Ina Rens, the first small Green House in South Africa for people living with dementia
  • The ongoing administration and running of Ekuphumleni that was struggling with exploitation, corruption and lack of care.

Residents at the Emseni old age home at Rorkes Drift in KwaZulu Natal

About this blog

IAHSA’s Global Ageing Network Blog was created because of you!! We got your message loud and clear – “Provide us with a quick and nimble communications vehicle so we can stay connected and create community across borders".

Questions? Email us at iahsa@leadingage.org.

Authors

Virginia Nuessle, Study Tour Director

Majd Alwan, Director, CAST

Alla Rubinstein, Program Administrator, IAHSA

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