By Gabula Milton Andrew, Founder/Exec. Director, URICT Uganda
Supporting the Grandmothers
Traditionally in Africa, there is a saying that it takes a village to raise a child, but with the unforgiving poverty, diseases, suffering, famine, starvation, corruption – you name it… is the village on the right track to raise the child in the present time?
In Kamuli, eastern Uganda, the grandmothers have been given a full-time parent role to raise, look after, and care for the children when the sons and daughters die of HIV/AIDS. A generation of orphans has been created. High fertility rates in Uganda, coupled with high death rates from HIV/AIDS, result in grandmothers in many cases taking care of children orphaned by HIV/AIDS and of course, many of them are living with HIV/AIDS.
Joy Orphanage of URICT is a home to 48 orphan children who lost their parents from HIV/AIDS. We have eight volunteers who help us on a daily basis. For the time being, our capacity is limited and can’t shelter more children, sadly. But elderly single widows are asking us to take in their grandchildren, because they can’t afford to provide for themselves and the children. Poverty coupled with old age makes it tough to provide for the family.
These children have lost their parents due to HIV/AIDS and the home which they are accustomed to is with their grannies.
Since URICT can’t take in the children, we have thought of a better idea. Why not support the grannies and let the kids stay at their home with their grandmothers? And we support the single widow grandmothers, and their orphaned get basic needs like medication, cloths, bedding, small good house, income generation projects, food, taking grandchildren to school and also advocate for their human rights?
A win-win situation!
With handout help from friends and well wishers, URICT worked to improve home health care by focusing on grandmothers. URICT worked with grandmothers on this program to identify the information gap about basic health care, as well as a desire to gain more knowledge about first aid and other ways to improve community health.
We also focused on the fact that the first responses in emergencies are crucial to saving lives before people can make it to the hospital from remote villages and we were informed that capacity building is of vital importance.
Grandmothers Expand Their Skills
In total, we identified 150 grandmothers who need urgent help, but we want to start with 80 to support first slowly, by slowly basing on funds raised.
Since we're have no donors yet for this project, we're helping 20 grannies with a little from our personal pocket – things like sugar, salt, paraffin (kerosene), soap, mosquito/ bed nets, blankets, medication, second-hand clothes, and sometimes food; and for children – scholastic materials, fees, clothes, etc.
Their grandsons and granddaughters are their helpers, plus URICT local volunteers; that's why we need them to continue staying with children to help in small work of gardening, animal rearing, and housework, but of course we have local volunteers going and ready to act as helpers to these grannies because children will be going to school during day hours.
With income-generating projects for grannies, we plan to give them birds: chicken, turkeys, and animals like goats, cow, pigs, and rabbits. In agriculture: for them, garden tools, seeds, etc. of their choice which can be managed together with their orphaned children.
As we implemented the project, grandmothers from the villages of Busota, Butansi, and Kabukye came together to expand their knowledge and skills in home healthcare and first aid. The grandmothers involved in the project were already organized into groups based upon a support group structure.
Lasting Smile Project - Inspiring Story
At the age of 75, Mukyala took on her three young grandchildren when their parents died from HIV/AIDS. Sadly, this situation is increasingly commonplace in Uganda where HIV/AIDS has created a generation of orphans.
No matter how hard she worked on her small piece of land, she couldn’t produce enough food for all of them. Mukyala was malnourished and feared the same would happen to her grandchildren if she became too weak to care for them.
Mukyala was fortunate to be one of 80 grandmothers chosen by our Lasting Smile Project to receive maize and bean seeds and some chickens. She was also given nutritious food supplements to restore her health and strength and within a week, she was feeling much better and was ready to get to work on her land.
With a little help from her eager grandchildren, just 60 days later, they welcomed their first harvest. The chickens produced eggs, and for the first time since losing their parents, the children were able to eat nutritious meals every day.
Mukyala’s determination and hard work is truly inspiring. Her grandchildren are now able to concentrate at school because they aren’t hungry. Now that they have a chance of achieving their potential, they are excited about their future. Soon Mukyala will have enough food to sell at the market which will help her provide her grandchildren with everything they will need to lead a healthy and happy life.
Every Little Helps
There are thousands of other grandmothers desperately trying to make ends meet but they cannot get by forever.
We request people to donate to help a grandmother like Mukyala escape poverty and build a brighter future for their family.