Lush green farms dot the undulating hills in Meru County. We arrive at Nturioru village for a home visit to one of our scholars, Maureen, a form four student at The Kenya High School. We are warmly welcomed by Maureen’s grandmother and family. We then meet 4 other grannies who form the ‘African Grandmother’s Project’ an initiative by Maureen to tap into the wisdom of the elderly in the community. Maureen recognises that the elderly are the wellspring of wisdom and knowledge and is tapping into this to solve issues affecting the youth in her community.
Having been raised by her grandparents, Maureen realised that they were very knowledgeable and often gave her valuable advice contrary to what she expected. At the same time, she realised that her peers considered the elderly as old-fashioned and would never listen to them.
Maureen’s grandmother taught her to work hard, be confident and to be of good character, values that have shaped her into the well-rounded woman that she is. She aspires the same for other young people in the community and therefore acts a conduit for passing on advice from the elderly with the goal of empowering the youth. “I am passing knowledge to the younger people so that they can have a better tomorrow,” she says.
So far, Maureen has worked with 5 grandmothers and 10 youth. The topics she tackles most of the time are drug abuse, early pregnancies and the importance of education.
She also shares information learnt at the Akili Dada leadership academies and mentoring sessions on various topics like Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) where she urges the youth to abstain. Her efforts are paying off as there is a reduction of early pregnancies in the area.
Grandma Sabina who was present during our visit said that the project was very good as it is helping the youth. “I urge you to work hard in school and stay focused because education is the key. I studied till class 7 and I would like to see all the young people in the community go further with their studies.” Grandma Agnes added that the project has helped stem school dropout rates in the community as more girls are staying in school after speaking to Maureen.
Maureen is confident that she will scale her project to involve more grandmothers and youth.