Sunday, May 12, 2013

Grannies are Gold

This blog post is a part of a grandmother movement.  To learn more, go here:

Photo Credit: Thorbjorn Chakravarty

The Nyaka grannies are some pretty remarkable women.

Yes, it's true, we brag on them a lot. And rightfully so.

With all their myriad life experiences, what we've learned from them is absolutely immeasurable.

They have taught us what it means to be giving, to live in community, what it means to sacrifice and what it means to practice love and courage on a daily basis.

They have taught us how to transform life's most difficult situations into golden opportunities for their grandchildren and communities.

In fact, our nearly 7,000 Nyaka grannies are gold.

Take Edvinah, for example. Edvinah lovingly raised 13 of her own children and then eight of them passed away, leaving behind three young grandchildren--orphaned and alone.

Although she lived in abject poverty, Edvinah decided to welcome her grandchildren into her home.

Displeased with her decision, her husband began to physically abuse 68-year-old Edvinah. She was forced to flee for their safety with no source of income or support. Her and her grandchildren wound up living in a windowless leaking shack.

Things are different for Edvinah today, though. Wonderful people like you  helped to build a new home and shelter for Edvinah and so many other wonderful women like her.  Thank you!

One grandmother at a time, we are rebuilding a community together. 
Granny house

  Bafokorora Edvinah

The Nyaka AIDS Orphans Project is giving a hand up to several thousand of the most deprived orphans in southwestern Uganda.  Education is our mission but we take a unique holistic human rights-based approach to ending the cycle of poverty that incorporates 7,000 elderly grandmothers as well.  

Most recently, Founder and Executive Director Twesigye Jackson Kaguri has been selected a 2012 CNN Hero for his tireless efforts to bring education to children orphaned by HIV/AIDS in Uganda.  CNN Heroes are Everyday People Changing the World. They are people who are making extraordinary contributions to those in need – like our students and grandmothers, the true unsung heroes of The Nyaka AIDS Orphans Project.   In addition, Kaguri is a published author of “A School For My Village” that recounts the challenges and triumphs of building Nyaka Primary School.

Out of a population of approximately 31 million, Uganda’s HIV/AIDS pandemic has resulted in over 2.2 million orphaned children who have lost one or both parents.  In addition to the trauma of losing a parent, orphans go without many of the basic human needs: food, shelter, clothing, healthcare, and education.  While the African extended family has traditionally stepped in to support orphans, the devastating impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic has overburdened this traditional safety net.  The Nyaka AIDS Orphans Project was born out of this crisis.

NAOP operates two primary schools in two rural villages in Uganda.  Our highly trained teachers and support staff are educating 487 children this year, which includes 60 preschool aged children.  We are also paying for 97 students to attend secondary school.  

NAOP is directly responsible for 584 children’s education in 2012 - an 11% increase from last year.

A very unique aspect of our organization is that our schools are completely free to attend and children are guaranteed an education through high school from the moment they are enrolled.  
In addition to providing a quality education in a nurturing environment, we include two meals per day, uniforms, books, medical care, and supplies to the students.

As a part of our holistic human rights-based approach to combating pervasive hunger and poverty, we serve nearly 7,000 grandmothers, through 91 support groups. This outreach allows NAOP to help an additional 34,525 children living in these grandmothers’ homes.  Having tragically lost their own children to AIDS they are now raising their orphaned grandchildren without social security, health care, retirement, child welfare, or basic housing.  Nyaka supports these unsung heroes by providing them economic opportunities that help them to care for their grandchildren.  We employ several Grandmother Coordinators who train them on practical life skills such as parenting, grief management, gardening, nursing, leadership, and business development.  In addition, NAOP provided the most destitute grannies with over 150 new stable homes, kitchens, and pit latrines last year, as well as a microfinance program where they make goods like baskets and jewelry that is sold in the United States.  

The human rights-based holistic work that we are doing has the potential to be replicated in other villages, countries, and continents around the globe.  

Our mukaakas, or grandmothers, are the bloodline of our work ~ we celebrate them daily.