The impact of HIV/AIDS in the society has been told again and again but little is usually highlighted on its effect on the elderly, especially grandmothers who always have to resume the role of child upkeep.
Maria Oloo an elderly lady in Obwolo, Kisumu, is one of the many grandmothers who have to spend their old age trying to make ends meet for her early orphaned grandchildren due to HIV/AIDS.
The 69 year old lady, mostly referred to as Nyanya Oloo, says her son and daughter in law succumbed to HIV/AIDS leaving her in custody of five grandchildren.
Nyanya Oloo becomes melancholic as she recalls a new responsibility she had of ensuring her grandchildren got at least basic education yet she was living in abject poverty.
She says her life had to change completely and she decided to seek help by walking with her grandchildren from one organization to another to get well wishers who could help her grandchildren go to school.
In the process of walking from place to place with her grandchildren, other orphans within the village who also faced the same predicament joined her until she found herself voicing the plight of 30 other orphans to attain at least basic education.
As a result of her involvement with children who are either infected or affected with HIV/AIDS, Nyanya Oloo was one of the old ladies selected to attend KMET training on Nyanyas (grandmothers) and access to ECDE education, income generating activity and entrepreneurial skills, care giving as well as community Conversation.
‘Kaka wanyanya, KMET nopuonjowa kadho aora komak lwetwa ber moingo ka oting’wa e tok, ‘she says in Luo as she beams with happiness. (KMET taught us that it was better to cross the river with our hands held instead of being carried on the back)
Nyanya Oloo notes that the KMET training was an eye opener since the Nyanyas living with orphans opted not to wait for handouts but instead formed a group, started income generating activities to support the orphans and even mobilized the community and enrolled many children at Obwolo ECDE with the support of KMET.
She is very grateful to KMET for having chosen to empower a forgotten group, the elderly ladies, who most often are charged with the responsibility of taking care of HIV/AIDS infected or affected children after their parents pass away.
By Lynette Ouma.