A Grandmother’s Love

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Paskulina Adokorach is a 70-year-old mother and grandmother in Kulekule village in the Nebbi district of Uganda. When it comes to her kids and grandkids, there is little Paskulina wouldn’t do to help them improve their lives.

That’s why when World Renew and its partner came to her village in January 2013 and talked about starting a women’s Village Savings and Loan group, she was eager to participate.

The program would run by having the 18 group members meet on a weekly basis, each contributing 1,000 shillings (about 38 U.S. cents) of their own earnings to a joint account. They could then use the pooled savings to provide each other with low-interest loans and to work on community projects that they could all benefit from.

At first, people in the community didn’t think Paskulina would be a great fit.

“When Paskulina joined the group, there were doubts from some community members about her ability to actively participate at her age,” recalls World Renew staff member Joseph Mutebi.

Paskulina was determined to prove them wrong. She worked hard in order to have funds to contribute at each weekly meeting. She participated in decision-making, held others accountable for repaying their loans, and helped make suggestions for how the group could contribute to the community as a whole.

She not only kept up with the other members but became someone others could count on to contribute significantly both financially and in leadership.

“Paskulina has been one of the most committed members of the group,” says Mutebi. “She has not missed a weekly savings payment and has even contributed extra money in addition to the weekly minimum.”

With her loan from the group, Paskulina has started a small business in the community. She buys mukene (silver fish) and then dries and sells it to those in her village. She also gets up early to boil maize and sell it to workers for breakfast on the way to their fields.

When asked how she manages these activities despite her age, she replies, “I do it on a scale and at a pace that is within my capacity and energy. I do it to support my grandchildren.”

Paskulina has also become an influential member of the group. For example, the other group members used to be intimidated at the idea of leading an opening prayer for the group. They had low self-esteem and weren’t used to speaking up publicly. Paskulina paved the way for them by setting an example and encouraging others to join her.

“Members have learned how to pray, especially when prayer is the first item on the group-meeting agenda,” said Paskulina. “The members have each led the opening prayer, and it has now become a practice at all of their households as well.”

Group members say that their strong group cohesiveness and their success at developing their resources is a direct answer to prayer. As a result, they now look for ways to show their gratitude to God by blessing and helping others.

“We have an understanding that as God provides for our needs, it is important to care for the needs of others in our households and within our churches and communities,” said Paskulina.

For Paskulina, this involves reaching out to her children and grandchildren. She has seen her children abuse alcohol, which led to them mismanaging their finances. She knows that this could hurt her grandchildren’s future. She now speaks out to encourage them to avoid bad habits and make better life choices.

Her own financial goal is to earn enough money to construct a permanent house for herself, her children, and her grandchildren.

About the Author

Kristen deRoo VanderBerg was part of the World Renew Communications team from 1999-2016. She now serves as director of Communications & Marketing for the Christian Reformed Church.

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Comments

It is good to see World Renew taking the principle of "helping without hurting" seriously.  It is so much easier -- but far less effective and often destructive -- to throw gobs of money or stuff at third world communities.  That's probably more exciting for donors too.  Still, the far better strategy is to very slowly and persistently help people figure out how they can help themselves, taking fully into account their particular community's circumstances.

Would it be that we'd have this kind of wisdom in the United States.  Here, we're still far too much infected by the same destructive instincts that drove Johnson's "Great Society" efforts.

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