Read the latest news on The Nyanya Project’s current fundraising efforts, as profiled by Winston-Salem’s local chapter of Fox News.
April 9th, 2013 · No Comments
February 19th, 2013 · No Comments
By Carleigh Morgan
For the duration of 2012, one of TNP’s biggest and most successful initiatives has been the implementation of agricultural projects that train grandmothers in essential and marketable farming skills. With the help of our correspondent and leader in Rwanda, Kassim Mbarushimana, and under the direction of a skilled and experienced agronomist, over 60 grandmothers have been trained to grow peppers. In late 2012, The Nyanya Project was graciously granted $5000 to fund another agricultural initiative in Rwanda, teaching grandmothers how to cultivate and raise mushrooms. This brings the grand total of grandmothers we are able to train to over 100. Due to TNP’s mission to foster and facilitate strong community bonds in area recently devastated by hostile political and ethnic conflict, most of the grandmothers come from one region, and attend the training sessions and workshops together. In the spirit of fostering camaraderie among the many grandmothers of the Jabana Hills and building strong communities, TNP will train an additional 30 grandmothers from this region. These grandmothers will join other women from their region in this new agricultural initiative, adding skills and profits from mushroom growing to a community that already seeing the benefits of the pepper growing initiative. As representative and leader in Rwanda, Kassim will be meeting with the agronomist in late January to finalize the details for the mushroom growing initiative. We eagerly await to hear progress updates from Kassim, and wish our new grandmothers the very best as they work with us to embrace a new chapter in 2013.
December 7th, 2012 · No Comments
We have just learned that one of our first friends in Rwanda, Minister Aloisea Inyumba, recently passed away. We met Aloisea on our first trip to Rwanda in 2010. We were introduced by a friend in Boston, and our visit was to determine if TNP could expand our training programs to grandmothers there. Aloisea, at the time, was a Senator in Rwanda’s Parliament, and she loved what we were doing.
In May, 2011, President Paul Kagame named her Minister for Gender and Family Promotion. This was her second time as Minister, the first was during the time immediately after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. A few months later, we spoke while on another visit to Rwanda, and soon thereafter, The Nyanya Project was registered by her ministry. Minister Inyumba was tireless in her support of women and families, and with her blessing, TNP began its first empowerment programs of Rwandan grandmothers and their families.
We will miss her deeply and appreciate how very much she contributed to new generations of strong women in her native land. Our heartfelt condolences go to her family and to the many, many who loved her. She died of cancer.
Please click here for more about Minister Inyumba.
December 6th, 2012 · No Comments
Check out the most recent photos of our Rwandan grandmothers as they learn to cultivate peppers to sell at the market in order to provide for their families. The album can be found here.
December 5th, 2012 · No Comments
Read the full article here.
October 15th, 2012 · No Comments
By Julius Okatch, Kenya Project Director, Nyanya Project
I, like almost all Africans, was born and brought up in an environment in which the grandmothers and elderly are only taken care of by their nuclear family members. I have witnessed first hand the hardship that these elderly women go through in Africa.
Older people play a pivotal role in any society, but today in many places, including Kenya, their needs are not being met. World over, families would not survive without the contribution of the older generation. Yet, older people are often excluded from development programs and are discriminated against by services such as health care and social support.
Africa is faced with the simultaneous challenge of sustaining high economic growth and achieving social development. Older persons, among other people, continue to be the most marginalized and vulnerable groups in Africa, especially the grandmothers. As long as the depth and breadth of social inequalities continue, achieving inclusive development will remain a challenge for Africa.
In the majority of African countries, formal systems of social protection do not exist that are capable of absorbing the increasing numbers of our older people.
The situation of the African grandmothers, who are mostly widows, is made worse by the fact that they are the same women who, following African tradition, sacrificed their formal education to their brothers’ counterpart. And now their nuclear family members, who are supposed to take care of them, are the victims of HIV/AIDS, leaving the care of their own young children to the grandmothers.
This is the situation in nearly all African countries, and it is what has been my understanding of our grandmothers’ lives’ until the year 2008 when I met Mary Martin Niepold (MM), Founder of The Nyanya Project (TNP).
The Nyanya Project was developed as a response to the problems and challenges stated above. I’ve witnessed many, many grandmothers who could not afford a meal a day and frequently could not pay their house rents and buy school uniforms for their grandchildren.
But today, in less than four years, the Nyanya Project has changed lives of grandmothers and their families by just taking the grandmothers through simple training on bookkeeping, how to save, and how to understand marketing for their small vegetable and fish stands, which is the way these older women typically provide for their families.
Most often, especially in slum neighborhoods, the grandmothers sell vegetables and dried fish. TNP chooses to teach them how to catch fish rather than giving them fish. i.e. handouts. With the business training from TNP, the grandmothers know which days of the week sell their goods better and then they know what supplies to purchase. They no longer have waste and are earning at least double what they used to earn. Now they can afford school fees and uniforms and can pay their rent.
Two years ago, a group of four TNP grandmothers came to ask me about their grandchildren’s academic future.
Quoting from the grandmothers, they said, “Julius, we have lived our lives, we sympathize with our grandchildren’s future and we want a preschool where we can take them for a solid early child education.”
Honestly, I could not imagine how these old ladies, who never went to school found it necessary to seek an educational foundation for their grandchildren.
This was a noble idea but very challenging to me, having not worked in any educational fraternity.
But with Gods’ grace and the helping hands of TNP Founder, Mary Martin Niepold, the grandmothers and I started Nyanya Toto Preschool in the Kibera slums of Nairobi, with a capacity of 80 children. Our TNP grandmother’s grandchildren attend for free, while others pay a small amount, to cover basic costs and keep the preschool open to everyone. The children, ages two to five, get two hot meals a day. Other grandmothers in the neighborhood are thrilled with what they are seeing and want to join.
We have seen progress with the establishment of Nyanya Toto Preschool to provide opportunity for solid early child education for the grandchildren of the grandmothers under The Nyanya Project. Many of their grandchildren are now attending public schools, and even the grandmothers have learned how to read and write a little bit.
No good thing comes without challenges: “Sustainability” through collection of fees alone, it’s not possible. So I initiated /incorporated a sewing center; still this could not have been possible without TNP.
This center is a unique model of its kind in Kibera (the biggest slum in sub Saharan Africa). We started with 10 treadle sewing machines. Young girls and other women who have experience in sewing but do not have the machines come to rent our machines at an affordable rate per day or per hour depending on what they need.
At the same time, our grandmothers are also sewing school uniforms and selling them to our preschool and other schools in the neighborhood. They give 50 percent of their profits to the preschool, and this has seen us take care of our preschool’s supplies and operation without depending on external help.
With the preschool running, grandmothers now have more time to attend the other duties other than just looking after their grandchildren.
Before, I couldn’t imagine how changing grandmothers’ lives who are taking care of their orphaned grandchildren is possible. Today, I witness it happening and am very happy with what we have done, and I’d like to sincerely pass my heartfelt gratitude to Mary Martin Niepold. God bless your heart, MM.
September 20th, 2012 · No Comments
How The Nyanya Project Is Making a Difference For Some of the Forgotten
By Kassim Mbarushimana
I am Kassim Mbarushimana, The Nyanya Project representative and project manager in Rwanda.
The Nyanya Project is an NGO dedicated to caring for African grandmothers and their AIDS orphaned grandchildren. This initiative is one that I personally find amazing and innovative, especially in our country,
Rwanda is a country in which we find multiple humanitarian NGO’s almost in all aspects of social life support. But none of them is directly helping grandmothers who are caring for a second generation of children, their grandchildren.
As someone who also has a grandmother who cares for her AIDS orphaned grandchildren, I know how hard it is to take care of AIDS orphaned grandchildren, in terms of basic fundamental life needs in order to sustain these children’s lives.
And I know how most important it is for grandmothers of this class to have some people around them, like The Nyanya Project, who are willing not only to support their efforts to keep their families strong and safe, but also gives them back their faith that they still have so much more to contribute in their respective society, despite the challenges of their age.
What motivates me to work for TNP is that I find this initiative very special in two ways; Firstly, most of the focus in Rwanda is oriented to youth as this part of our people makes a big percentage of Rwandan population. Now, because of The Nyanya Project, finally it looks like grandmothers are again seen as important in the society.
Secondly, our culture is still affected by the consequences of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, and The Nyanya Project initiative is playing a big role to unite the ethnic groups who consequently have been affected. The reason is that within TNP, the grandmothers meet to learn skills and put their efforts together despite their different ethnic backgrounds just for one purpose, to help their grandchildren’s future, and this makes them forget about their past as well.
When TNP initiated its first program in Rwanda in 2010, 15 grandmothers were trained in skills to supplement their income. Today, 75 new grandmothers, in addition to the first 15 grandmothers, are being trained in sustainable agriculture projects. We plan to train more than 100 new grandmothers next year.
Our TNP grandmothers are also making significant progress in their neighborhoods and villages, to the extent that local government officials are really impressed about our strategy of working with the grandmothers. In addition, we are also now receiving a lot of applications of new grandmothers who are eager to join TNP programs. But since we are still very limited financially, I wish TNP could have more funds to cover programs to assist all of our requests.
Personally, I like achieving goals. Moving TNP to the next level and bringing my contribution to this brilliant initiative would be one of my lifetime achievements. I am very happy that TNP is making a big difference to some of the forgotten people in my country.
August 31st, 2012 · No Comments
By Gale St. John
Six years ago, I met Mary Martin Niepold for the first time. We found we had a lot in common and made a dinner date to get acquainted. That dinner was life changing for me. During the course of it, Mary Martin told me about her desire to help African grandmothers raising AIDs orphans. She had all the statistics at her fingertips, and she concluded with this statement: “And you’re going to help me.”
So I made a commitment to this woman I hardly knew to travel with her to Kenya to figure out how we could help our sisters in Africa. Before I knew it, I was on a plane with her, a dream, a few names, substantial fear and a lot of faith.
The next three weeks were filled with ups and downs and each experience was magical. People who could help us kept appearing — sitting down beside us in airports, meeting us in elevators, driving us around, meeting in school buildings – and trusting that these two American grandmothers – with no funds, no backing, no experience – were sincere and had the capacity to help. Miraculously the framework of The Nyanya Project was in place when we departed for home. We had our first two groups of grandmothers: one group ready for job training, the other desiring to establish a sheep owners cooperative. We had bonded with these women, who were so different from us but still so much the same. We had Kenyans with energy and ideas committed to helping coordinate in Africa. We had a list of contacts who were to prove helpful in various ways in the future.
The experiences we shared on the trip were mind-boggling. Traipsing through the muddy paths of Kibera, one of the world’s largest slums, we felt exuberant and completely without fear – so committed were we to the nyanyas. Children who had never seen a white face before called out “How are you?” and giggled wildly when we responded in our limited Swahili. We ate local food and drank tea in homes with no electricity or plumbing. We planted trees in a remote village and saw a baby being born in a parking lot. We sang and danced with villagers and made promises to send help.
Our bodies were exhausted but our mood was joyous. Whatever poverty we saw was ameliorated by the spirit and vitality of the women we met. Their ability to live with love and spirit in spite of appalling circumstances made us humble. Our hearts filled with love for Eunice, the three Marys, Beatrice, Eugene, Julius, and all the other Africans who have now become our lifelong friends.
Looking back, I am thrilled by what has been accomplished since that first trip in July, 2007. Mary Martin’s dream has been not only been fulfilled but also has become the dream of hundreds of others. I have been privileged to be an ongoing part of this most amazing project. I have made two subsequent trips for TNP – one with my daughter, Kari, and grandson, Gareth, to build a shelter for grandmothers in Tanzania and the other with my sister to visit the Kenya projects and all our African friends. Each of those trips was very special in its own way. But I will always remember that first trip as the most profound experience of my lifetime.
August 1st, 2012 · No Comments
She was selling tickets at the local arts cinema theatre in Winston-Salem, N.C. And she was smiling.
TNP’s founder noticed her bright energy, and a conversation began. Carleigh mentioned that she was an artist, but hoped to get into some kind of international business study. On top of that, she had just graduated from Wake Forest University where the founder teaches.
The rest is history. TNP’s founder said, “Come see what we are doing at The Nyanya Project. I live just across the street.”
Two weeks later, Carleigh Morgan became TNP’s Administrative Assistant. Over the summer, she also became indispensable and with Don Jennings, our website designer, has helped write, format, research and assemble our newest website. All three of us have enjoyed putting a new face to our work, and TNP couldn’t have entered the digital world so well without either Carleigh or Don.
As Administrative Assistant, Carleigh is a triple threat. She is both writer and artist, and she understands social media thoroughly—and with the kind of joy that eludes those of us who were born into a world of typewriters and princess phones. And her heart holds the world.
We are thrilled to have Carleigh with us—and you’ll be hearing from her in the months ahead. She’ll be with you on Facebook and Twitter and our new Website. And she’ll be with me as she tries—one more time—to explain social media and why messages really are complete with only 140 characters.
June 13th, 2012 · No Comments
By Mary Martin Niepold
When Kassim Mbarushimana recently joined TNP as our Project Manager for Rwanda, he came with a big heart and a special love for grandmothers and their care.
“My own grandmother struggled to help raise her grandchildren,” Kassim said. “I loved her very much.”
Kassim is a good friend of Simon Mvunabandi who was our Rwandan Project Manager for two years before leaving a few months ago to work full-time as an HIV-AIDS specialist for the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) in Rwanda.
Both men are recent graduates of the Generation Rwanda (GR) program, a powerful organization out of the U.S. that provides university scholarships to genocide orphans and other young Rwandans who otherwise would not be able to afford advanced degrees. GR was our first partner in Rwanda – and they have provided leadership and high quality talent for all of our projects in Rwanda. Please learn more about their excellent programs: www.generationrwanda.org
Kassim also holds a law degree – his education and his big heart are a powerful combination, and TNP is blessed by his efforts for us in Rwanda.
Most recently for TNP, Kassim found 60 new grandmothers raising AIDS orphans to train in agricultural projects in Rwanda. The women live in the steep hilly area called Jabana Hills, a few kilometers outside of Kigali where our first TNP grandmothers live.
By September, the first group of 30 new grandmothers will be trained for two weeks by an expert agronomist in pepper growing. TNP will pay for their training, the supplies and rent the land they will use. Since our grandmothers have spent most of their lives as subsistence farmers, the training will be easy for them to learn while also enhancing their other farming efforts. Once their first pepper crop comes in, our new Board member, Eugene Nyagahene, will identify markets for their produce. Nyagaheme has encountered tremendous success in his “capitalism for social good” approach, which focuses on healing relations among Africans by uniting them through commerce.
A second group of 30 grandmothers are eagerly waiting to start their own training in pepper growing, come October. In addition to the two week training session, the grandmothers will receive monthly progress check-ups and regular instructional workshops hosted by a local ergonomist. All of the profits that the grandmothers earn from renting the farmland and selling their produce will go directly back to them as generated income.
Come early 2013, TNP plans to train even more grandmothers in mushroom growing and honey production in the Jabana Hills where it all began, thanks to Kassim, Simon and Timothee who earned university degrees through our partner, Generation Rwanda.