I have a strong personal connection to all of our solar projects. Sometimes I find the next project and sometimes the project finds me. In the case of Grandmother Projects, it was a little of both.
I met my Ugandan friend, Jennifer Nantale, many years ago while working in Rwanda. We have kept in touch via social media and occasional emails. When I heard that Jennifer went back home to Uganda to work for the Nyaka AIDS Orphan Project, I wanted to know more. That's how the Grandmothers Project came to light, grandmothers raising AIDS orphans.
The Nyaka Grandmothers Project in Uganda. Isn't that something? My grandmother was one of the most influential people in my life. I wouldn't be the person I am today without her love and wisdom. And now I, too, am a proud grandmother, well aware of the joys of raising children and grandchildren and also the challenges.
So when I heard about this amazing group of women in Uganda, many of whom have lost their own children to AIDS, I knew this was a project where 50 Lanterns would have a profound and immediate impact. Most of these amazing grandmothers are living in very difficult circumstances, yet they're dedicated to creating a safe and nurturing home for the children.
It was the story of grandmother Maria Gorreti Bagyenduza, a 56-year-old widow, that convinced me this would be our next project. In Maria's own words:
"Before I joined Kutamba Grannies Project, I was traumatized and stressed because my life was so difficult. I had given birth to seven children, but five of them died after struggling with them in hospital which made me have to sell some of my land to pay their fees. I live on a very small plot of land with three orphaned grandchildren. Thanks to my granny group, I was able to borrow the equivalent of $12.50 to purchase three hens that have multiplied to seven. As a result, I have been able to purchase utensils like plates and cups, jerry cans, and blankets. I have learned a lot about how to grow vegetables around my home and I received a hoe which has helped me to produce enough food for my family. I am so happy when I get to meet with the other grannies and learn from them. I never knew what it was like to have things in my house like blankets. It is my hope that I can earn enough to someday have a kitchen."
Please help us provide safe, renewable solar to these wonderful grandmothers.