Charitable work in rural Uganda often focuses on children. But the Quicken Trust also works to give hope and dignity to another group in the village of Kabubbu hit by disease and destitution – the elderly.
In Uganda there’s no pension or state benefit to rely on. For most elderly people in Uganda, their family is their pension, supporting them in their old age. But AIDS and malaria have meant many of the elderly in Kabubbu don’t have that assurance. Quicken’s work now provides that safety net.
Around 90 elderly people are supported through the “Adopt a Granny” scheme begun in 2006. Sponsorship means they regularly get basics such as eggs, milk, meat, sugar, salt, soap, and water from a borehole taken to their homes. Caring for the elderly is one of the projects run by the welfare department which was set up with the help of funding from BA and Unicef.
They also receive free medicine and paraffin to light their homes. Sponsors also send gifts or provide necessities such as beds, mattresses, mosquito nets and bed linen.
The work benefits local children too. In many families, AIDS has wiped out a generation, leaving grandparents to raise young children. Some have as many as seven to care for at a time in life when they can’t get work to earn an income and even growing crops or fetching water is difficult.
Quicken knows of one widow in her 70s who has seen all but one of her 12 children die from AIDS. Her remaining son is HIV positive. She has been left to care for 12 grandchildren. Another woman, Cissy, is in her 90s. She has no living relative. She is too old to grow food and was totally dependent on the kindness of neighbours.
“Adopt a Granny” was begun by Quicken volunteer David Upfield after he visited a sponsored orphan girl, Serena, and the elderly woman who looked after her. (Sponsor an Elderly Person)
“Serena’s grandmother was in her 70s. She had been caring for Serena since her birth when she was orphaned” says David. “But the old lady was going blind and told me she had no idea who would care for the child in the future.
Quicken had found a sponsor for Serena – but there seemed to be no hope for her grandma. That’s why I started the scheme. It’s difficult to survive in the UK on a state pension – so imagine living in a leaking mud hut with no help.”
Jamida was working in Kabubbu’s quarry when David first met her – breaking rocks in the hot sun with a small hammer. She put the smaller stones into a washing bowl beside her. She said it would take her all day to fill five bowls. For that she would be paid 1,000 shillings – about 30 pence. Not enough for a bar of soap. Jamida explained that thieves sometimes even stole her bowls overnight.
Adopt-a-Granny has given Jamida hope and some security. She and one of her three grandchildren are now sponsored by the Quicken Trust. She has food and knows that if she becomes ill, she can get help at the Kabubbu Parish Health Centre. (Sponsor an Elderly Person)