A group of young volunteers accompanies elderly people alone, on the street, to combat the aggressions that are hitting the Asian community.
Julia Chin, 74, lives in a prime area of San Francisco, not far from Chinatown.
Every day he goes out into the street, for a solitary walk, always with a different route, for security reasons.
Of Chinese descent, Julia feels “safe and at ease” in the neighborhood where she has lived for almost 50 years, but is concerned about the attacks that are multiplying in the USA, against the Asian community. “They say the virus (from Covid-19) came from China and that’s why they attack the Chinese”, but I also heard of “a Vietnamese couple who was attacked by thieves who said: we don’t have a job, we don’t have money, everything is closed “due to the pandemic.
This week, Julia Chin made her first outing with the KIND project, Kids Next Door, that is, the kids next door.
The idea was born of three brothers of Asian origin: Matthew, Tyler and Katherine Joe.
Confined at home with the pandemic, the three felt inspired by their grandmother’s company. Matthew, 16, explains that the time spent with his grandmother “made us realize how lucky we are, especially since many of our friends have no grandparents and are unable to be with the older generations, with whom they can share experiences. We thought that seniors could tell us their stories and experiences. When we go hiking, they often tell us childhood stories. It has been really fun! ”
KIND keep their elders company, on walks, shopping or when they are sitting in the park.
Each elderly person is accompanied by two young people, in sessions that can last until two o’clock. “One of the volunteers lends a hand to this older person, to make sure he doesn’t fall. And the other is more attentive to what’s going on around him. KIND wants to provide security, less through protection, and more through friendship and company” , emphasizes Matthew Joe.
The initiative is also a response to the growing attacks on older Asians.
“We believe this is because Asians walk more alone than the elderly in other communities,” explains Tyler, 14.
“We observed that violence against older people in California happens mostly, with elderly people who are alone. So, we thought, what if these people were not alone?” Adds Matthew. “We spoke to the San Francisco police and a group of three is much less vulnerable than a single person alone.”
In addition to the police, the youth had meetings with health officials. Due to Covid-19, the program has some conditions: the older ones must have already completed the two doses of the coronavirus vaccine, hand hygiene is mandatory before the sessions and “absolutely touch the face” is avoided. Volunteers must also be provided with mobile phones in the event of a medical or security emergency, and the elderly must be “relatively healthy”.
In a pilot phase, the project already brings together about 40 young volunteers, but it extends to a few neighborhoods – the least problematic.
With the KIND, the older ones gain security, company and friendship, while the younger ones gain life lessons. “We are learning a lot of things,” says Matthew, “how our families and friends got to where they came from, how lucky we were to be born when we were born. For example, my grandmother peeled prawns to pay for her education. Her hands smelled like shrimp and seafood and some kids at school enjoyed it. I find this story very interesting “.
These are stories that connect the elders and the kids next door. A bridge between generations, with an ear and a helping hand, in a country that is less and less for old people.
The author does not write according to the New Orthographic Agreement
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