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  • My original intention for the LYProject was to become an Adult Literacy Tutor, so I trained up to do this, then I waited to be assigned my first student – I’m still waiting. Despite their long waiting lists I understand that it will be the autumn before I will be called. So I really needed to move on with my intention to help others.

    So I signed up with another Irish organisation – Age Action – to teach basic IT skills. Again, there is a major gap in learning in this area with many older people paying more for goods and services because they cannot order on-line.

    I started volunteering as an IT tutor last week. Every Monday morning for the foreseeable future I will head down to the community centre in a sheltered housing unit for the elderly or, in these days of political correctness, ‘older people’. It’s a six hour course (one hour a week) which helps people get started on the computer. It’s very basic – how to turn on the system, what a mouse is, how to use it, but by the end of six weeks the individual has set up their email account, can surf the internet and many develop the desire to become Ireland’s Silver Surfer! It is wonderfully uplifting.

    I spend an hour tutoring on a one to one basis with my learner and a further hour flitting back and forward between a variety of ‘graduates’ (those who have completed the six week course).

    Already I am honing in on the life stories and it is obvious that this is more than just a short course which many of us as younger people would take for granted – do it and move on.

    It’s the Monday morning escape for one gentleman. His wife of 56 years was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and he is her sole carer – Monday is her day in Respite and he has chosen to spend his free time in this little room. I feel humbled to be helping him and want to make his time as interesting for him as possible.

    Another man is terrified by technology and doesn’t want to be a bother – however after one session he leaves the room enthusiastic and with a plan on how he will conquer his fear.

    One lady wants to travel and enjoy life so we both become experts in comparing the prices of flights. Another lady wants to read the death notices – so we do that – it’s her choice.

    All in all these are a great bunch of individuals and it makes me sad that, like many older people in our society, they have become invisible. They have such great stories to tell and such potential to develop. While western society has focussed on choosing the ‘right words’ to describe older people, it has ignored the real issue – valuing the person.

    I plan to get to know them all a lot better.

    (Photo: Courtesy of Veronica Lim. London)
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