I, Meredith, had a grandmother that I was very close to. I could talk to her about anything. We would sit for hours and watch her Spanish soap operas or hockey games (she loved the fighting!). She made the best Paella and her smile lit up the room. She was one of the most precious people ever in my life and she knew how to love and I knew how much she loved me. On February 3rd, 1998 she went to heaven to be with Jesus.
A grandmother’s love is like no other.
Last week, we went and did an assessment on a 52 year old grandmother named Priscilla, who was raising nine of her eleven grandchildren. These eleven grandchildren all have the same mother and father. The mother died during childbirth of her last born twins; girls who just recently turned one. The father, after his wife’s death, didn’t know how he could care for his 11 children and so left them with their maternal grandmother.
We heard of this family from a sweet ministry that we are friends with, Mercy Rescue Trust (www.mercyrescue.co.uk). They currently have the twin girls and it is the grandmother’s desire to be reunited with her granddaughters when they are old enough and can walk. They were given to Mercy Rescue Trust due to the grandmother not being able to care for them in the way they needed at the time of their birth.
Since One 5 Ministries (O5M) has the Community Based Care (CBC) Program, we decided to see how the ministry could assist this family and eventually have the granddaughters reunite with their grandmother.
When we arrived to the family’s home, we were taken aback by the beauty of the land around them. They are close to Mount Elgon and the land is rolling with green everywhere. Banana trees, avocado trees, and guava trees outlined the different plots of land. Even the family has a nice little plot of land in what looks like a friendly community.
We went in to their one-room mud and stick home. It was about 10’x20’; it had two couches, one table and one old wooden chair. There were no beds, no mattresses and no blankets. It smelled of cow dung because the floors had just recently been smeared with it to smooth it out and apparently, to help prevent jiggers (chiggers).
We found four of the nine grandchildren there plus a number of community children anxious to greet the visitors, especially us white people. We met a man who we found out is Priscilla’s husband. His name is Peter and he said he was 72 years old. We also met Peter’s first wife. She looked much older than Priscilla.
As we sat and got the stories of the children, we were told that Priscilla had to send away the other five grandchildren to other relatives. She just couldn’t manage to take care and feed all of them. Although they aren’t very far away, it broke her heart to know that she wasn’t with her other grandchildren. The grandchildren that do live with her are Dorcas (13), Purity (11) and twin brothers, Moses and Isaac (3).
Priscilla told us that she does manual labour to feed the family. Peter is too old to work now so he stays home with the twin boys while Priscilla is out finding work to do. The family eats only one meal a day. I can’t imagine what the portions would have been like with five extra mouths to feed daily.
Peter and Priscilla asked where everyone slept at night and she pointed, embarrassed, to a corner where there were about two or three straw mats. At night, they pull them out from the corner; lay them on the floor and all curl up together to keep warm.
The manager of Mercy Rescue Trust, Jedidah, asked Priscilla if she wanted her twin granddaughters back at some point. She quickly answered yes, but her fear was that she would be taking them away from a place that she knows they are being provided for. She knows they are getting three meals a day; she knows that they get porridge every day. And a part of her didn’t want to take the girls away from having better food and a better life. This grandmother sincerely loves her grandchildren and you could see how sincerely they loved her.
These are the families that I love seeing children in; families that truly and genuinely love the children and want what is best for them. And families who want their family to stay together.
As we were getting ready to go, Priscilla told the social worker, Sally, for Mercy Rescue that she wanted to give her a chicken as a thank you for bringing us. My heart dropped; here was a family who eat only once a day and they wanted to give one of their chickens. My thoughts were, kill it, cook it and eat it yourself. However, in this culture, when that is offered to you, you don’t say no. It is an insult and rude if you do. And so Sally accepted and then we watched as two of the grandchildren and some community children chased down the chicken. Its legs were tied and it was put in the trunk of the car.
We started walking to the car and got surrounded by community children. Sean had the camera out so he took pictures of them and then showed them the pictures. The children were laughing, pointing at themselves on the screen of the camera.
I turned to say goodbye to Priscilla and noticed that she had gone back to the house and was returning back to the car with a potato sack about 1/3 full of avocados. She was giving it for all of us to share.
I wanted to give it back but again, she wouldn’t allow it and so we couldn’t. A woman, who has barely anything, is still giving things away. Warmed my heart and broke it all at the same time.
Our prayer is that we can get these four children sponsored through O5M to provide food and other necessary items, including getting some bunk beds made and some mattresses and blankets bought for this family. Our hope is that we can get this family established and then once the twin girls are ready, they will be going back to their family’s home and Priscilla will be at peace that she CAN provide enough food to include these girls back into their lives.
If you would like to sponsor Dorcas, Purity, Moses or Isaac, please visit O5M’s website http://www.one5ministries.com/sponsor-child/ for information.
In His Service,