Dominica, which is said to have the highest number of centenarians per capita in the world, has increased its tally of living centenarians to 27.
Epheline Laville became the latest addition to that list on March 11, 2021.
Mrs. Laville, who is originally from Bataca, but now resides in Marigot, is a firm believer of ‘eating what you grow’, to which her family attributes her longevity.
The mother of ten, three of whom are deceased, was a housewife and spent many of her days doing what she loved- sewing.
A humanitarian at heart, it is said that every Christmas, she would cook her famous soup, and share it with her entire community.
Mrs. Laville is also a strong catholic and a very family-oriented individual and to this very day, her children say, she continues to instill in them the value of family at every opportunity.
Though we were not unable to get a comment from the 27th living centenarian, last month, however, we spoke to Dominica’s 26th living centenarian, Veronica Edvira Anatol, who credits her milestone to the Heavenly Father and who, despite her century on earth, still boasts of good health.
Born in the community of Viellecase in 1921, and raised in Pennville where she resides to this very day, Mrs Anatol bore 10 children, two of whom have died, to her husband of 47 years, Leon Anatol, who passed away in October 13, 1992, at the age of 78.
Through tradition, Mrs Anatol was a housewife, but most importantly, she was a mother to many having raised 25 grandchildren, 36 great-grandchildren and 3 great-great-grandchildren.
President of the Dominica Council on Ageing (DCOA), Mrs. Ophelia Marie has extended birthday wishes to Dominica’s most recent centenarians and welcomed them to that elite group.
“It is good that our seniors are continuing to be resilient and that they are growing into centenarians. I am happy that their families are in contact with them and treating them well and providing us with an update on their health,” Marie told DNO in an interview.
She said over the Christmas holidays, the DCOA got the opportunity to visit many of the centenarians on the island and disclosed that many are still in good health and are very active.
“They still have a very good appetite, they have a positive sense of humour, many of them don’t have any severe health conditions. When we visited them they joined us in singing Christmas carols, so overall that’s an indication that things are positive in their lives and they are taking good care of themselves,” she stated. “Although they cannot go about as much as they did before because they like church, they continue to talk to their higher power to strengthen their immune systems. So I can report that our centenarians are very resilient.”
Acknowledging that they are among the vulnerable group during this pandemic, and have not been able to socialize and enjoy the camaraderie as before, the president informed us that the majority of our seniors in Dominica are embracing the use of technology to stay connected to the outside world.
“They use WhatsApp, Facebook, and even zoom. So it’s very good that they are willing to keep up with the times,” she said.
Marie expressed delight that no centenarian or senior citizen on the island has died from the COVID-19 virus and urged both the elderly and their families to continue to follow the health protocols. She also advised members of the public to wear a mask if ever they chose to interact with a senior citizen in their community.
As it pertains to the vaccine, Mrs. Marie encouraged the family members of the seniors on the island to ensure that they do proper research before making any recommendations to the vulnerable folks in their care.
“I would like to encourage our citizens to pay attention to the information and when and if they decide to proceed to take the necessary action, it can’t be the DCOA insisting on anything, it has to be left to the family members to properly inform the elderly folks at home and left to the seniors to make that decision.”
She commended the government of Dominica for their quick action in obtaining the vaccine, pointing out, “It’s now up to the rest of us to play our part.”
According to the DCOA, one additional senior is expected to celebrate her 100th birthday in November of 2021.