Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Di's dying legacy

An elderly home opened by Britain's Princess Diana in a Zimbabwe township during her African charity crusades has run out of money. The Society for the Aged Destitute has had to reduce the number of elderly given shelter with only a few months of funding left. After years of economic meltdown in this southern African country, those turned away from the home resort to the surrounding litter-strewn streets where homeless elderly dressed in rags beg for money and scavenge for food scraps and anything of value. The home's grounds are overgrown and a bedroom wing has been shut down. The residents stream into a bare eating room holding battered tin plates.

 Administrator Louise Allaart said met Princess Diana at the home in 1993 and said she touched the hearts of everyone she met. "I was so impressed with her. She had contact with people. It was absolutely amazing. She had that gift. I want her children to know she touched many people's hearts in Zimbabwe," 

Her children have an income of about half a million punds a year.

The British charity HelpAge cut its funding in 2008. The plight of the home is seen as a reflection of Diana's legacy in Zimbabwe.

Sevias Mujere, a trustee at the home, said Zimbabwe's approaching winter months pose health risks to the men and women, some aged into their 90s. During frequent power outages after years of political and economic turmoil, the vulnerable "sit in the dark, cold and shivering," he said. He said they were susceptible to sometimes fatal infections and respiratory disease and the home lacked money for medicines, treatment and hospital care. "We are struggling to pay salaries for our six workers" who made personal sacrifices in their dedication to the home, he said.

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