The second project we visited was KYHRDO in Hotela town, a 1 hour drive from Addis Abba in Oromiyya region . We arrived in a courtyard, greeted by the mayor and grandmothers. While we waited for a busload of Grandmothers from the region the children sang, one young girl read to us about the importance of education and a young boy told us jokes. Once the grandmothers arrived, they danced, sang, clapped and ululated inviting us to dance with them .
The Canadian Grandmothers , led by Tina , burst out in song: We are standing Hand in Hand
We assembled to march, children in front with their own banner and the grandmothers with 2 more banners. We walked about 30 minutes in a shaded eucalyptus lined lane.
We learned that the coffee ceremony is used to build community and it also is a way for the community to discuss issues like HIV/AIDS. The triple pouring of the coffee provides time for the participants to talk through issues. Popcorn is served to fill in the time while the coffee is being prepared. Bread (hambesha) is also served with the coffee. Coffee ceremonies are important in the Ethiopian culture as a way to build community through conversation and education.
Kulich Youth Reproductive Health and Development Organization (KYRHDO) objects are: to support orphans and vulnerable children, their guardians who are living with HIV/AIDS, to minimize the burden that the guardians face, and particularly those who are grandparents. Projects include: Community Awareness Raising, Economic Empowerment, Caregivers' Awareness Raising, Orphan and Vulnerable Children Care and Educational Support and Tutorial and Recreational Support. We visited their local income generation project and purchased some scarves.
Many of the grandmothers share their their stories about HIV/ AIDS and how it has has impacted their family. They now educate and assist others in the community thanks to the community based projects.
In March of this year I was 1 of 22 Grandmothers across Canada who visited Africa with the Stephen Lewis Foundation Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign. We had the opportunity to visit projects in Ethiopia, South Africa and Rwanda. We divided into 4 groups each visiting different projects. As a member of group 3, Developing Families Together in Debra Sina, Ethiopia was the first project I visited. We received a warm welcome from 75 grandmothers, children and community members with singing and dancing and then joined in a march down main street.
Major Projects of Developing Families Together
Grandmother and Children Support
Environment protection,water and sanitation
Promotion of social facilities at community level
Since 2010 more than 375 grandmothers increased their regular food consumption from two meals a day (or less) to three times a day. Over 350 grandmothers are maintaining better hygiene thanks to the body soap, laundry soap and powder soap. 176 orphaned grandchildren who were frequently absent from class now go to school , thanks to the school uniforms and materials they received from the project. 375 grandmothers have increased their knowledge of business skills, which they used to decide what kind of income generating activities they want to engage in. We had an opportunity to buy and see some of their products. (Acknowledgements: SLF Grandmothers' Projects Highlights March 2014 Special Edition )
On day two of the visit the Canadian Grandmothers sat down with about 25 African Grandmothers to chat. Many of them shared their stories of AIDS, poverty, and loss of family members. Some spoke on the stigma of aids and how the person with aids and all their family members were outcasts in the community. They spoke of hope for the future and how grateful they are to the Canadian Grandmothers.