"Mae Janfong Maha-mai"
"Seniors fulfill their dream while knowing their rights”[dt_quote type=”pullquote” font_size=”normal” background=”plain” animation=”right”]“Get the relevant organizations to be aware of older people’s rights, assist older people to access to their entitlements and make us visible in the society”[/dt_quote][dt_gap height=”10″]
Fulfilling the dreams of older people requires preparation from society, especially the economic and health sectors. Fulfilling the dreams also requires knowledge about older people’s rights, which provides them with encouragement. The project Building capacity for promoting older people’s rights and income security in Thailand, in cooperation with the Older People’s Group (OPG) in Banthi District, Lamphun Province, organized a volunteer team named “Older People’s Rights Promotion Volunteer Team of Banthi”. The team’s purpose is to promote knowledge about older people’s rights and to encourage, monitor, and protect those rights. The volunteer team also works with relevant government agencies in the 10 pilot villages to raise their awareness about the rights to older people
Mae Janfong Maha-mai is the president of the volunteer team. “Gathering a strong group of older people brought us the power of negotiation with key organizations such as municipal offices”, she said. Workshop style meetings were used in various villages to educate older people about 13 critical rights and entitlements for older people in accordance with Thailand’s Older Persons Act 2003. The workshops also brought strength to OPGs. In the past, older people lacked useful knowledge and information for their daily living, especially knowledge of older people’s rights, access to health services, and access to the Elderly fund provided by the government and so on. The Older Persons Act is in place but there is a gap between the Act and its implementation. Since the volunteer team was organized a few years ago, Mae Janfong Maha-mai and her Banthi OPG team have been handing out information such as on older people’s rights in monthly meetings. That also strengthened the OPG itself. She also provided information to older people through word-of-mouth during special occasions such as Buddhist holidays.
Realising and accessing their rights brings an important change for older people, such as access to health services. For example, now they are keen to ask for a shorter queue for seniors. They also negotiate with government organizations for funding to support their OPG.
“I would like to inform the relevant organizations to be aware of older people’s rights to access to their benefits and make us visible in society”, said Mae Janfong Maha-mai, the president of the volunteer team who has worked hard on older people’s issues for several years, to relevant organizations on behalf of older people.
This human story is in the project on promoting older people’s right and income security in Thailand. Implementing by Foundation for Older Persons’ Development and HelpAge International