By: Kenny Mulinde
In May 2011, Amy and Patricia of Grandmothers Beyond Borders introduced AGYA to a local Grandmother’s Union operating in the village of Kangurumira in Jinja District. Personally, I think it is a very big challenge for us as young people to realize the need and importance of interacting with the elderly. In most cases, we think we know everything and also tend to ignore and abandon the teachings and guidance of our grandparents. Yet, these special people have the knowledge and guidance we need as young people to grow into responsible citizens.
AGYA Country Director Abraham Matovu (pictured here with one of the grandmothers) described the elderly as society’s living library that has all the knowledge of life skills and experiences.
After a positive and inspiring meeting with the members of the Kangurumira Grandmothers Association (KGA), AGYA youth realized the need for young people to work closely with grandmothers if we are to create change. We also determined to exchange ideas and knowledge in order to bridge the gap between the young people and the elderly.
Currently AGYA is in the process of documenting the stories and life experiences of the KGA members. This gives us an opportunity to conserve the precious words of wisdom, advice and knowledge of the grandmothers. We hope to compile all the stories, translate them into English and write a book.
Most of the grandmothers are raising at least five of their grand-children. 70% of the women are widows and depend on subsistence farming. They grow bananas, cassava, pineapples and maize and some raise cattle, goats and pigs. The proceeds from their harvest go directly to paying school fees for their grand-children. Despite the revenue generated from their crops, some women still cannot afford to educate their grand-children and access medical facilities.
During our second trip to Kangurumira village, we interviewed some of the children and were shocked to hear that school fees range from 6000 – 20,000 Ugandan Shillings (approximately $2.50 - $9.00 for one academic year). Most of the AGYA youth leaders determined to sponsor some of the children in the village starting at the beginning of the next academic term.
The work of AGYA in Kangurumira village has only just begun. We are looking forward to providing the rural youth, women and children with opportunities like school, health education and life skills.
|AGYA youth with members of the Grandmother's Union in Kangurumira|
|AGYA Youth Happy Namutebi and Faridah Nanziri conduct a workshop with the grandmothers.|
|Grandmothers practice using the knitting machine provided during an AGYA workshop.|