She was sitting under the tree with the other mothers in the school yard, yet her age made her stand out among them. Her walking stick was laid on the ground beside her. I approached her and extended my hand to greet her, saying ‘apwoyo Mego’. She laughed as she shook my hand and asked my name. I wanted to know what she was doing here, had she come with some children to register for the new school year, what was her story?
Mrs Lalim is 85 years old, and is the primary guardian for her 4 orphaned grandchildren. The 4 grandchildren belong to 2 of her sons – the eldest grandchildren aged 14 and 15 years belong to one of her sons, while the youngest grandchildren aged 8 and 12 years belong to another son. ‘How long have you been looking after them?’ I asked her, ‘for many many years’ she responded. The eldest granddaughter tells me that she has been living with her grandmother since she was only about 2 years old.
‘Min pe’ she tells me – ‘the mothers are not there’. I am hesitant to ask where they are; ‘do you mean that they left the children and went away? Or do you mean that they passed away?’ She confirms what I had feared, both mothers had passed away, and so has the father to two of them. The four children were basically orphans and relying on their elderly grandmother to provide and care for them.
Mrs Lalim is just one of many grandmothers faced with the responsibility of providing for and caring for their grandchildren. We meet many through IGF’s primary schools, as they bring their children to study here because of the daily meals, medical treatment and low parent’s contribution. IGF schools provide education, nutrition, medical care and clean water to some of the most vulnerable children in the community.
I was curious to ask how she can afford to look after the children and keep them all in school. The old woman looked at me and hesitated for moment, responding that she makes homebrew alcohol and sells it to buy food and provide for her grandchildren. She had come to with the little money that she had saved to enrol her grandchildren for the new school year.
The children have all been registered in IGF’s main primary school; Mercy and Christopher in Primary 6, Fortunate in Primary 4, and Patricia in Primary 2. They have also been registered in IGF’s Child Sponsorship program, in the hope that we can find sponsors that are willing to support them through school.
For further information on how you can sponsor Mercy, Christopher, Fortunate or Patricia, or to sponsor another child through IGF, please email Alice at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website https://irenegleesonfoundation.com/sponsor-a-child/
Sponsoring a child through IGF is just one of the ways that you can change a child’s world and provide opportunities for them to reach their full potential.