Francisca Ogone, Grandmothers Project

Date grant awarded: June 27, 2016

East Africa Hub Fellow David Omondi, made his first flow fund grant to 63 year-old Francisca Ogone’s Grandmothers Project, which works with elderly widows living with orphaned grandchildren in Kisumu, Kenya.

For over 40 years Francisca has lived in the Obambo neighborhood raising her children, who gifted her with grandchildren. Watching your kids have their own kids is often an amazing feeling, but getting older and becoming a grandmother is also associated with the stigma of helplessness and loss of independence. Francisca believes that she still has much to contribute to the world, and was moved by the desire to improve the lives of fellow elders in her community by assisting them with transitioning gracefully through old age.

Although Francisca and most of the women are unable to read or write, she does not want herself or others looked down upon as a burden, or branded as a beggar, when they are still able to do meaningful work. The Grandmothers Project involves helping widows (many of them also living with a diagnosis of HIV/AIDS) earn a livelihood without resorting to physically hard and dangerous work. Despite their age, they have been working to collect and bust up stones, making ballast every day to rehabilitate members’ dilapidated houses, to pay for their grandchildren’s education, and to help provide for their basic needs.

This flow fund grant will allow The Grandmothers Project to set up small businesses selling maize at community markets, where they can make a better income without the hard work and health risks associated without collecting and busting up stones. With no IT skills, unable to read or write, David guided Francisca throughout the grant making process, giving her and the women their first opportunity to secure funding!