A local woman has been inspired to start a group committed to visiting elderly in retirement villages and aged care facilities.
Annebelle Fourie, 32, moved to New Zealand in May 2019 from South Africa for a ‘new adventure’.
She currently lives and owns a gardening and landscaping business with her partner in Flat Bush.
On September 8, her father was diagnosed with primary lung cancer that spread to his brain.
“My initial reaction was to go home,” Fourie says.
“We soon realised that with the way the world is at the moment, Covid wasn’t going to allow for that to happen.”
Although she was grateful for video calls and daily updates from her family, Fourie says, the “hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through was not being there when I desperately wanted to be.
“I felt helpless from a distance.”
It was during this time that she “realised how important human connection is”.
Fourie was grateful her dad had many visitors and didn’t spend his last days alone.
“It made me hyper aware of how fragile life is and how much I hope that no one would go through this alone,” she says.
The idea, which she posted to social media, was for people to visit older members of the community who not have visitors, or who may be lonely.
“What about ‘adopting’ a Nan or Pop?” Fourie says.
“If you have time, pop in to your nearest facility once we’re allowed in. Find someone who needs kindness and love.
Even if it you just remember a birthday or make up a care package once every three or four months.”
The response to her post has been “overwhelming”, Fourie says.
She told the Times her next steps would be reaching out to a number of rest home and aged care facilities in the coming weeks to see what the options are.
Then she will set up a private group for those who are interested in joining the mission. Virtual meetings will be created and communication through the page will be encouraged.
“It will happen,” Fourie says.
“It’s just a matter of timing and determining which rest homes would welcome our support.”
Fourie hopes to involve many people in brightening someone’s day.
“If I am the only one carrying this forward, that would be enough,” Fourie says. “But the more people I can make smile, the better!”
Those interested in joining Fourie’s mission can email email@example.com