Malvern seniors no longer have an excuse to stay at home and disengage from community participation.
As part of the Ubuntu Community Village Project (UCVP) developed two years ago by TAIBU Community Health Care Centre, a shuttle bus was launched last Saturday to transport elderly residents to recreational programs, community events and medical appointments.
The 18-seater, which cost about $83,000, was acquired through an Ontario Trillium grant.
“For most of our seniors, we know that transportation is a major barrier,” said TAIBU’s executive director, Liben Gebremikael. “They will now be able to get around and become more involved in their community with the acquisition of this bus.”
Two years ago, TAIBU developed the UCVP to help older adults age successfully while living at home.
“Our seniors are an integral part of our community and we need to look out for them,” said TAIBU Women in Action and Ubuntu board member, Margaret Hayling.
Ubuntu advisory committee member Anita Rajroop concurred.
“Seniors are special and we want to ensure they stay well and healthy through a variety of wellness and recreation programs,” she said. “Now they have access to a bus to take them to these activities.”
Part of the nearly $325,000 grant over three years was also be used to hire a coordinator to pilot the Ubuntu project that’s designed to empower seniors to remain active and engaged in community activities and stay in their own neighbourhoods as they age.
“We all come from places where the village is everything,” Gebremikael said. “For many of us, there were no structured services in the communities we were raised. It’s the village, the neighbourhood and the community that looks after each other. This is where the spirit of the Ubuntu village concept started. Today we are acknowledging the journey we have been on since 2012.”
Scarborough-Rouge River Member of Provincial Parliament Bas Balkissoon, councillor Raymond Cho and mayoral candidate Karen Stintz attended the shuttle bus launch.
Balkissoon said he planned to become an original Malvern resident after migrating to Canada in 1970.
“In 1973, I entered a raffle to become a homeowner in this neighbourhood,” he recalled. “At that time, low income families were offered opportunities to own a home. I was unsuccessful but I still live here because I am proud of this community…I want you to remember it took almost 40 years to get to where we are with the development of this village concept.”
TAIBU emerged from the Black Health Alliance (BHA) after then Minister of Health and Long-Term Care George Smitherman announced in November 2006 that the government was increasing Community Health Care satellite centres across the province to improve primary health care and strengthen communities.
The BHA was instrumental in lobbying for a CHC to be set up in Malvern to serve the large and predominantly Black population in the Scarborough riding.
TAIBU, located at 27 Tapscott Rd., was launched in April 2008.
“This community health centre has filled a void in our community to promote health care service,” Balkissoon said.