History of E.G.G.S. Initiative

“Empowering Grandmothers while Generating Support”

Every 14 seconds a child is orphaned by AIDS. Over 50% of the grandparents in Kenya, mostly women, are raising thousands of the 2 million orphans. On the average, these brave, selfless, grandmothers care for five orphans, some as many as fifteen or more. They face the difficult daily challenges of meeting the critical needs of these children.

They are older, tired, and sickly; their average age is 65 years. Some are HIV positive through caring for other family members who have died from HIV/AIDS. They have inadequate resources and no one to help them. The grandmothers and children are unable to process their grief from multiple, personal losses due to losing those they love from HIV/AIDS–children, grandchildren, spouses, relatives, siblings and friends–because of lack of professional pastoral counseling and psycho-social care.

Ben Ouma, Empower Director, found a grandmother lying on the road who was looking for food for her orphans. She did not have the strength to get back home and still was without food. Other grandmothers can’t afford a pencil and notebook for school supplies because they can’t even feed their orphans. Most recently, the post-December 2007 election violence and drought in Kenya affected a large population of grandmothers and orphans and created a serious humanitarian crisis with a long term effect.


EMPOWER’S RESPONSE

In 2007, the E.G.G.S. (Empower Grandmothers while Generating Support) Initiative began in Mangu, an agricultural community in Central Province, Kenya whose main economic source is coffee. This community became a central hub of activity in the 1980’s and 90’s because the climate and environment was conducive to the development of coffee plantations in this town of 70,000 inhabitants. When field workers came from other communities to work in these plantations, they carried the HIV/AIDS virus which spread to the local residents. Mangu residents have since suffered severe consequences living in a community where the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate which was 34% in 2002 and 20-30% now live with the virus.

Lack of education, poverty, and starvation are the direct results of the HIV/AIDS pandemic and are victimizing many orphans and children in Mangu. Every seven seconds, a child dies from hunger. Young boys and girls are prostituting themselves to make money for food and not protecting themselves. Sixty percent of the children, mostly orphans, are not in school because they are looking for food and ways to buy it.

The E.G.G.S. Initiative engages these selfless grandmothers in micro-enterprise whereby providing poultry to them will yield eggs to their orphans. The eventual increase in their flocks will empower them to sell the eggs and meat into the market to help meet other critical needs of these children and share their increase with other grandmothers. Some are doing this already. There are now over 60 grandmothers in the E.G.G.S. Initiative who are feeding over 300 orphans. The poultry population has grown from 30 to over 1000 because of the hard work of these grandmothers and their orphans and our donors in the U.S. who are empowering them by giving them resources and renewed hope.