…Her contagious smile reveling teeth neglected, thinning extremities speaking days gone hungry, weather worn skin with wrinkles that marked an age unknown and a compassion that echoed and told a story far more potent and poetic than any Blockbuster hit. She was Granny. This is whose story lured me into Africa. Seared onto my heart like the dark lines tattooed on her weary face. I will not forget Granny.
Granny is not alone. She is one of countless Grannies who thought their work was done when their children were grown. Culturally speaking, she should be enjoying the life of being cared for by her grown children. Instead, they have all passed away (most likely from AIDS related causes), leaving 10 orphans to be cared for. School fees, clothes, food are just the beginning of their needs, not to mention love. Granny has taken them into a 2-room house with a thatched roof, maybe 200 square feet. The youngest of the children was still breast-feeding when his mother died.
Two children, too young for school, were there during our visit. They stood there in shirts too big, no pants, no shoes. They did not seem to notice that their attire was scarce. You could tell they knew they were loved and cared for. The children listened to Granny and she looked at them with affection in her deep eyes. I wonder when their last meal was? I wonder when their next meal is? Granny is too thin, how many times did she skip a meal in order to feed the mouths of her growing grandchildren?
Granny was selected by a local hospital to receive a new house. On her property stands the old house and new home- a glimpse of the past and a gift of hope for their future. She does not have much to give but what she gives is priceless. She is whose story cries out, the story that needs to be remembered and told. She is courageous; she is loving; she is selfless; she is Granny.
Photo by Joy Gaska