Thank You, RuPaul.

In the last year of our work, many have helped make our vision become a reality for grandmothers in Africa. A major donation came because of entertainer/actor, RuPaul.

Now, because of Ru’s recommendation of The Nyanya Project to a donor, we have been able to give direct training and assistance to more than 120 grandmothers. From there, the new income generated by our grandmothers extends directly to help many, many hundreds more in their families. The positive influence that TNP grandmothers have on other women – daughters, granddaughters, neighbors, relatives, other grandmothers – is incalculable .

Ru, a friend of TNP Founder, Mary Martin Niepold, first heard about her dream in the summer of 2007.  Niepold had just returned from her first trip setting up programs for grandmothers in Kenya and Tanzania and bumped into Ru on a Sunday morning in New York.

Ru lit up when he heard that the vision was specifically for grandmothers who were raising grandchildren orphaned by the AIDS pandemic.

He and Niepold chatted over coffee in a Starbucks shop on 14th Street in Manhattan. Ru was wearing a loose cotton shirt, khakis and sandals. He had arrived by bicycle, and despite looking like anybody else having coffee in the city, at least three people came up to him and said, “You are fabulous.”

And he is. Inside and out.

As we talked, Ru asked the one question that keyed in on everything that was motivating TNP.

“What are you really giving the grandmothers?” he asked.

Niepold was silent for a bit, thought over what Ru had just asked her and then replied,


And there it was. The intangible benefit that informs all of TNP efforts.  Ru understood instantly.

“I don’t know exactly how I can help,” he said. “But I want to.”

He recommended us to a donor, whose contribution covered a large portion of our program expenses during the last year. We have given direct assistance to more than 1,000 family members in the AIDS Crisis in Africa and have initiated expansion of our programs in Kenya and Tanzania. This summer we will also be able to launch plans for programs in business skills training and HIV-home health care for grandmothers of AIDS orphans in Rwanda.

RuPaul has long been a person who walks the walk and is as beautiful as he looks. Because of him, many grandmothers in Africa now have hope.

Please watch his new televison show, “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” and when you see Ru, know that behind all that beauty is a person with a very, very big heart.

And from grandmothers and orphans in Africa and from TNP friends in America – we say thank you – asante – from the bottom of our hearts.

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