COSTA RICA NEWS – At 88 years of age she leaves the house every morning at 6:00am to take to buses from Naranjo to the international airport in Alajuela, where practically is her place of work, begging tourists leaving the country for change.

Meanwhile, 30 kilometres away, her adult children and grandchildren, live without concern.

Neighbours are concerned at the indignity.

The cameras of Noticias Repretel (local television channel 6 news) followed the woman for four days and including spoke to her 50 year old son, who says “the family can’t stop her”, yet is seen during the four days of hidden taping not to make any efforts to detain her.

Because of her age, the woman has difficulties walking and getting on and off the bus. Regardless, she is there each morning and afternoon, focusing on her chore of getting coins and sometimes has the good fotune of getting a paper note or two.

At the end of her day, the senior who many call “abuela” (grandmother) out of affection and respect, stops at the local pulperia (corner store) to buy food to take home to feed the family.

In the video, the family would not come out of the house at the sight of the television cameras. Her son, who is identified by the reporter as “Don Teofilo”,  did finally come out and be interviewed on camera where he defended the accusations of neighbours and asked for “pruebas” (proof) that they have overhead family members telling “abuela” to get up, that she needs to go to work. The son also says that the food she brings home is for everyone, denying that he is taking advantage of his elderly mother.

“I’ve told her not to go (…) I don’t take money from her (…) yes, I accept the food, but she doesn’t give it to me alone, it’s for everyone, she gives it also to her daughter (…) I’ve never stolen from anyone,” says the son in the video interview.

For the Consejo Nacional de la Persona Adulta Mayor (CONAPAM) – the national counsel for the elderly, this is a case of abuse.

So far this year, the CONAPAM has investigated 443 complaints of abuse of the elderly.

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