FOR years, Heather Matulanga (50), has had no other friends than a group of elderly people who she spends most of her time with.

All of them are old enough to be her parents, even grandmothers.

This is the life she has chosen — to take care of the elderly until they have breathed their last.

Out of love, she calls these senior citizens 'my children' despite their age difference.

Indeed, they are her children — she manually feeds, baths, clothes them and ensures that they have taken their regular medication.

This daily routine has resulted in her developing an unbreakable bond with the elderly here at Ida Wekwako Old People's Home.

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Located at the heart of Dombotombo high-density suburb, the old people's home survives on donations from well-wishers ranging from corporates, individual philanthropists and churches.

But it is the story of Matulanga who after accompanying 'her children' on their final journey to the world yonder, finds no closure at all.

"It pains me most, I need closure after having been with these people for some time. If they die at hospital, I can't bid farewell to most of them at their burial. It is like taking your child half way on a journey and never see him or her again," she sobbed.

Most inmates at this old people’s home are of no fixed abode with some having come from Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique either as migrant labourers or refugees.

Upon joining their creator, those of no fixed abode receive State-assisted and or pauper burial.

"It haunts me a lot. Sometimes I feel it is right for me to be there when they bury one of them. In our culture, attending a burial of your relative or loved one brings closure to everyone. In this case, bidding farewell to the departed elderly is all I want ," added Matulanga.

Most paupers' burials are conducted randomly without notice at all, she lamented.

"Imagine one of these elderly people getting sick, you take him or her to the hospital and that is the last you see them. You have been with the deceased for a long time, having a bond, and the last destination being a hospital, I have to witness the final journey for me to heal," she said.

Matulanga added that some of their deceased can spent four months in a mortuary due to complications relating to the status of their citizenship.

"When these elderly die, if there are no relatives, they now belong to the State. At one moment, we took a deceased to the mortuary and found out that the remains of one of our elderly who had died four months back were still in the same hospital mortuary. It pained," she said.

Ida Wokwako Old People's Home is owned by the Christian Marching Church which has branches all over the country.

Currently, there are 21 elderly people at the home with the eldest being 104 years while the youngest is 63 years. Of the 24 elderly, 15 are males with females totalling six.

The home is also taking care of three orphans who were referred by the Department of Social Welfare.

Matulanga said they tried to engage funeral parlours but in vain.

"We approached local funeral assurance companies but the problem is that no funeral company accepts to offer a policy to such an age group.

Matulanga is assisted to provide care to the elderly by her husband Clement who is also a pastor from the same denomination.

Today, Matulanga is known by residents for taking care of senior citizens but to her, the love story is affected by lack of closure when 'her children' join their maker.