INSTEAD of wallowing in self-pity and whining about aching joints, a chirpy group of elderly women in Mamelodi West, Pretoria, are using their permanent spare time to travel the world and keep fit.
Since it was started over a decade ago, the proud members of the group - aptly named Simunye Women's Club - have been to Mauritius, Mozambique, Swaziland and France.
When they are not shopping in local cities or exploring neighbouring countries, the group gathers at the Mamelodi West Community Hall twice a week to create striking handicrafts that they sell to the public to sustain their exciting lifestyle.
The club also uses the community hall provided for free by the Tshwane municipality for fitness training, prayer sessions and choir rehearsals.
Pioneered by 78-year- old retired businesswoman Dorothy Ngwenya, the club also works tirelessly to raise funds for local non-governmental organisations.
Unpacking the purpose of the club, Ngwenya says she started the club to rescue the elderly from boredom, loneliness and poor health and to give them an opportunity to lead productive lives.
Ngwenya says they have achieved and conquered so much together that "we have grown into a close-knit family".
"The first few months were difficult because I had to go knocking on doors to plead with elderly women who had become used to basking in the sun to join the club," she recalls. "But looking back I don't regret my efforts because we have new members streaming in every day."
The members celebrated Valentine's Day at Carnival City in Boksburg, Ekurhuleni, and on Women's Day the club will treat its members to a joyous getaway at Montecasino in Fourways, Johannesburg.
"I'm so excited to mention that in November we are going on a five-day luxury ship cruise on the Mozambique Channel to Madagascar.
"Every little thing we do together is therapeutic," Ngwenya says.
The club's professional fitness trainer, Miriam Mavuso, 69, says the fitness exercises she dishes out to the appreciative members pay dividends.
"Some come here leaning on walking sticks, courtesy of aching joints and back pain due to old age, but it takes two months of fitness exercises for them to get back on their feet again," she says.
A new club member, Mavuso tells Sowetan that her once deteriorating health has improved significantly since she joined the club two months ago.
"I struggled to walk or stand upright because of back pain but now I jog almost every day. I did not know that exercising was so beneficial," she says.
At the weekend the club threw a surprise birthday party for fellow member Dorothy Seboga, who turned 58 on February 10.