My hours at the Erbil Nursing home

Above: Poora Golizard, she has been at the nursing home for 7 years now.

So what do a group of 20 and 21 year-old Kurdish girls do in their spare time? If you guessed writing or going for a walk you would have probably been right, but no, not this time. Shopping? Again No. Gossiping? No. Not us! Bowling? No. Cooking? No. (You wish!) Spending time with friends? (YES!! But certainly not the type of friends that you have in mind)

Let me tell you, the most recent news is that the triplet friends(that is Bewar, Ashna and I) will begin the weekly visit to the nursing home in Erbil to voluntarily spend time with our new friends, most of whom are half a century older than we are. The experience is enjoyable, but the lessons that we learn just by siting with them and being involved in their conversation are beyond what words can describe. There is a big contrast to the orphanage that we had been so attached to before. But we like change!

This week was preliminary- it was tears and laughter. Sitting in the garden under the warm sunlight with a group of my old friends I learn Some of these ‘oldies’ are in love, others have met in the nursing home and are now married. Some hate one another, others flirt with each other.

Their conditions are better than what you may expect. Whilst their health and medical needs are met, the place they live in is as old as they are and the garden is very small. I noticed they lack activities and a daily program to keep them occupied.

Today there were 42 of them— almost all of them over the age of 60. I saw it all; hatched backs, wrinkles, and even the sloppy kisses that we all dread. Their lives can be turned into a comedy television series or a soap opera but their abilities should never be underestimated. I realized each one of the ‘Dada’, ‘Poora’ and ‘Mama’ (What Kurds usually call the elderly, the terms refer mainly to aunty and uncle) have their own stories, you cannot hold back the tears as they share their pains, their wounds, their sacrifices and exhaustion in life.

So who needs young friends when you can be friends with the old? I must admit though, since my first visit my view and thoughts about life have changed dramatically. Whether we like it or not, you and I will also be old one day and I just wish there will be someone who will come, sit with us under the warm sun, see our wrinkles and listen to our stories.

Some of my old friends can’t eat sugar, others are forbidden from salt and of course oil is a ‘no! no!’ for most them, but still, next week I will smuggle in some homemade sweets, I know they will like it!

* Fellow reader!! If you by any chance have ideas of activities (even games) that are easy, accessibly and do not need much materials for older people ((‘Older’ meaning 60+)) then please let me know. In the two hours a week I would like to do something exciting and different with them, other than sitting and listening to the endless stories. I have been looking for the heavy metal balls that aim to land close to a specific target (can’t recall the name of the activity)… It would be very convenient and enjoyable for them. Unfortunately I haven’t had any luck so far. I want them to stretch some muscles and have some fun!

*There is going to be an article on the nursing home in this week’s issue of the Kurdish Globe.

3 thoughts on “My hours at the Erbil Nursing home

Add yours

  1. Nice to see younger generation can find time and make effort to connect with the older generation.It strikes me though that 60's are considered old in kurdistan which will be slightly akward if you accidentally say that to a 60 years old in the UK! who are still working and productive people and looking forward to their retirement to enjoy life even more.

    The name Nursing Home is seemingly has slightly different concept in Kurdistan! in the Uk nursing homes are for people who are frail and entirley dependenat on the careers to look after them . Residential home would have been the right description I would think ? which is the place for people who have no place or family to spend time with but almost dependant on themselves ! or may be the place you have described is the combination of both.


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