A personal and ongoing form of assistance for our work is to create a Grandmothers Club in your community.
The first club was created three years ago in the Founder’s hometown of Lexington, N.C. and every year 100 grandmothers come together to provide support for our grandmothers in Africa.
Below is an article by Bett Hargrave, one of the founders of our first club.
Grandmothers Connect to Grandmothers
By Bett Hargrave
In the Spring of 2010, a group of women from Lexington, NC launched an innovative fund raising idea named the Grandmothers’ Club. It was created to raise money for the Nyanya Project (TNP) but the inaugural event was also planned to honor the founder of the project, Mary Martin Neipold, who grew up in Lexington.
The Nyanya Project (Nyanya is Swahili for “grandmother”) is changing the lives of African grandmothers and their AIDS orphaned grandchildren. Lexington grandmothers were moved by the ways that TNP reaches out to these unsung heroines by creating sustainable cooperatives in villages and cities in Africa. The grandmothers learn basic skills, earn and manage money to support the grandchildren they are raising, and reinvest income; the goal is for them to become self sufficient, to find hope and to strengthen their families.
Many of the African grandmothers are trained in basic business skills so they can increase profits of their small vegetable and fish stands; many are learning to make crafts and to raise sheep and cows that they share communally; eight of the original ones are now working in the Nyanya Preschool in the Kibera slums of Nairobi.
The goal of the Grandmothers’ Club is to provide on going support for the TNP as it evolves into a sustainable organization. Members donate $100 a year, or more, to the club and invite new folks to participate. Other support for the project comes from grants and from the grandmothers themselves who donate 20% of their income to a joint micro finance account to train additional women.
Members receive newsletters and invitations to special events; they may choose to meet annually for a presentation about the ongoing and new activities of the program. Connecting the grandmothers here in the US to the grandmothers in Africa will be encouraged through email and the web as a way to make the project personal rather than abstract.
Our hope is that this model will be replicated in communities throughout NC and beyond.
To date, the Lexington Club has raised almost $13,000 for TNP over three years. Any club can organize itself as it chooses. In Lexington, we plan a get together such as a luncheon or a wine and cheese event every other year. The other years we provide an update in a letter from the founder. If your community is interested in starting a Grandmothers’ Club, please contact: info@nyanyaproject.
The Founder will be happy to talk with you about ways your community can help, provide materials and make a presentation to your group.
We, the women who started the Grandmothers’ Club in Lexington, will also be happy to help you launch a club in your own community so that others may participate in this exciting program to provide sustainable skills for African grandmothers and hope for their families.