Sunday, September 14, 2008

Centenarian Credits Work, Fresh Natural Food, Faith, and "Uprightness"

International Year of the Older Person
Meet Centenarian - Anais Passe Coutrin

Saturday 4 December 1999

Anais Passe-Coutrin, nee Dolius, was born on August 9, 1896, at Capesterre in Marie-galante. Orphaned from childhood, she was raised by her older sister, Loulouse.

At age 13, Anais left the island of her birth for mainland, Guadeloupe.

At an early age, she began working as a servant in different houses but to this day she has very fond memories of her stay at the Corbins in Morne a l”Eau. Apart from celebrating her 20th birthday there, it was also the year she got married. On October 16, in Moule, Anais married Eloi Passe-Coutrin, a farmer, also from Marie-Galante.

They had seven children, five of whom are still alive. She now has 33 grand children and 53 great-grands. Anais has had a very active life – working the land with her husband, caring for children, working in the market, making “carpate” oil and “gros sirop”. Up to the age of 90, she was still maintaining a kitchen garden. She used to eat the fresh produce of the land and was particularly fond of bananas, manioc with gros sirop from the sugar cane. She does not like rice.

Now, old age does not allow her to enjoy such delicacies any more. She has to eat mainly pureed food prepared by one of her daughters with whom she has been living since the 1970s. After an incident of poisoning, she discovered soya milk, which she prefers over cow’s milk.

During her youth, Anais had no health problems. She had never gone to the doctor. Never had surgery. Now, she only receives a doctor’s visit for flu vaccination. Apart from her reduced mobility, Anais has an exceptional dynamism and physical freshness.

Family and the Lacroix community (the section of Moule where she lives) surround her, and faith holds a special place in her life. Every Friday, she receives blessings from the village priest. A pretty woman, she puts on her toiletries and adorns herself with jewelry on these occasions.

Work, healthy food from the land, faith, uprightness – these are her secrets for longevity. Despite her old age, Anais a.k.a Manna has great lucidity. A woman who provides pleasant company, who does not regret anything from her past, she continues to live peacefully while waiting for, according to her “God’s calling”.

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