NYUMBANI VILLAGE GRANDPARENTS
The Village grandfathers (Umaus) specialize in carving wooden walking sticks and spoons. They sit out under the trees by their homes to stay cool while they whittle their wares. The grandmothers (Sho Shos) have been weaving sisal baskets since they were young. Both skills have been handed down from one generation to another in the Kamba tribe. They produce products of superior craftsmanship and intricate designs all in an effort to improve the quality of life for themselves and the grandchildren they are raising.
A model bio-friendly and self-sustaining community serving orphans and grandparents who have been left behind by the “lost generation” resulting from the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the Village is designed to house 1,000 orphans and 100 elderly grandparent in 100 homes.
Although the family’s basic needs are met with Nyumbani assistance, to enhance their quality of life further, the grandparents earn extra money by selling their crafts. With these additional funds, they are able to diversify their diet, use public transportation to visit their families up country, and make investments for future sales.
Jedidah MunyaloJedidah was born in 1938 in Tiva. Her father, Mailu and her mother, Musangi, had eight children together, seven of whom are still alive. Jedidah did not receive a formal education, but did attend informal school to learn her tribal dances and customs. She married her husband, Munyalo, in 1956 and they had 13 children! Twelve are still alive, but one child died of AIDS and left her with the four grandchildren that are at the Village together. Munyalo Naomi, a boy born in 1992, is in Standard 7; Musyoka Naomi, a boy born in 1995, is also in Standard 7; Masesi Naomi was born in 1996 and is in Standard 6; and Mwendwa Naomi, a girl born in 1997 is in Standard 6. The family arrived at the Village in 2007. Before coming to the Village, Jedidah could not afford the required uniforms and school fees to provide an education for her grandchildren. She worked as casual laborer, waiting for work to earn enough money for some food and a ride home. The family faced famine because of the drought, and Jedidah had many sleepless nights because she had not eaten. She is so happy to be at the Village and have her family’s basic needs met. She has no complaints, and expresses her gratitude many times for the founders of Nyumbani and the lives the Village has saved. She sadly does not have a home to go back to, as she had to sell three-quarters of her land to feed her grandchildren. She hopes they will finish their education, graduate, and get jobs to provide for her and their siblings.
Joyce Mutave MwenzaJoyce was born and married in Mulutu. Her father, Nzilu and her mother, Mary Kalimbi had four children. Joyce is the only girl, and her three brothers are John, Mutua and Kitheka. As the only girl, she did not attend school, but instead received an informal education in dancing. She does not know how to read or write. She married John Mwenza, now deceased, sometime before her first child was born in 1963. Together, Joyce and John had four children - two boys and two girls. All finished school through Standard 8. The boys continued with education and training, the girls pursued tailoring. Her oldest passed away, leaving her to care for her five grandchildren. Together, they all arrived at the Nyumbani Village on February 4, 2007: Mutua Lucia (age 24), Nyamu Lucia (age 20), Joyce Lucia (age 19), Angeline Lucia (age 18), and Kasee Josphat Lucia (age 28) graduated from the Village Polytechnique and has left the community for work. Before coming to the Village, Joyce and her family had no shelter, no food, and no means to provide an education for the children. When she could, Joyce worked as a casual laborer for a meager income to support her grandchildren. She is grateful for the Village, and is happy to be living here. Her family receives clothing, food and education, and her life is now stress-free. Joyce hopes her grandchildren will complete their education, get jobs, and build a home. Her family no longer owns a home or property, so until the grandchildren are able to provide for her, she will remain at the Village.
Katee Kingili KithumaKatee was born in Muthetheni to her father, Kyuma, and her mother, Ndeke. She is the oldest of six; she has one brother and four sisters. Although she was a member of the Mumunda clan, she married a man named Kingili from the Aombe clan. Katee was not intending to take a husband, but then she saw the dowry of goats and her father told her she was to marry into the house for her family’s sake. She remembers she married in 1963 because it was the same year of Kenyan independence. Her husband is still alive, but he took another wife after marrying Katee, and devoted all of his attention and money to the second wife. Katee had four children: three boys and one girl. Two of her sons and their wives have passed away, leaving her with nine grandchildren to care for: Mutuku Matata (age 16), Mueni Matata (age 13), Ndunge Matata (age 11), Carol Matata (age 5), Mercy Wambua (age 18), Loise Wambua (age 16), Mumo Wambua (age 9), and Mwau Wambua (age 5). She brought eight of these children with her to Nyumbani Village, and the ninth child attends high school. Before coming to the Village in May 2011, Katee struggled because of her husband’s devotion to his second wife. Kingili left Katee with nothing to raise their grandchildren with. He even tried to sell the home she was living in, but as it was property from her family he could not. Katee likes peace, and is aggravated by people that cause disruption, show aggression, or act lazy. She wants her grandchildren to be educated, to become famous in Kenya for doing good things, and to earn money. She recognizes that education is the key to success. Katee has grasped the spirit of Nyumbani that the
Katende MuthembwaKatende is the first born of 13 children, nine of who are still alive, and she is fairly certain she is older than the 1938 date on her ID, but she has no idea of the year. Her mother, Mary Syengo, and her father, Nzeu, were unable to send her to school so she received an informal education to learn how to care for the home and children, and she also learned to dance. Katende married Muthembwa in the 1950’s, and he is still alive. Six of their thirteen children are still alive, and Katende is proud to say there were all educated through class 8. Sadly all of them have faced the struggle of poverty, and only one son has a steady job as a (underpaid) driver. Despite her age, Katende worked casual labor to help feed her children, grandchildren, and her older husband. After her daughter died, leaving her with two small grandchildren to care for, she was invited to live at Nyumbani Village. She is comfortable here, and genuinely enjoys caring for others. The home care department recognized Katende’s ability to love and nurture all children, and they requested that she care for an HIV+ child that recently arrived at the Village. ShoSho Katende proudly introduces the grandchild as her own and under Katende’s care the child is adhering to the medication and is no longer suffering from malnourishment. Katende is grateful for the services Nyumbani is providing. She is happy her grandchildren are receiving a quality education, and hopes it will empower them to grow and care for their own families, and ultimately her. As her legs and back are becoming increasingly worse, Katende looks forward to returning home with her grandchildren and having them care for her.
Syokuu Mwanza MaithyaSyokuu was born in 1927 in Changwithya West. Her father, Nzuva, died when she was young, leaving her mother, Mukio, alone to raise her five children. They were farmers, and relied on their crops for food. While growing up, formal education for women in her area did not exist, but she attended informal schooling to learn how to care for a home and for children. Syokuu is the oldest of her siblings, but two have deceased. Syokuu and her husband had nine children, seven of whom are still alive. Her husband died when he was young, leaving Syokuu with the burden of financing educations. Her three sons all received primary education, and two of her six daughters were educated to the same level. One child passed away young of a headache, and the other child - the mother of the grandchildren at Nyumbani Village - died from AIDS. Three of Syokuu’s grandchildren are at the Village. Joseph Kathini Musee (age 24) just finished Form 4 and is headed to university! There is also Lucy Kathini (age 20), and Alii Kathini (age 19). Prior to coming to Nyumbani Village, Syokuu struggled because she had no energy to keep a job and earn an income. To her great relief she arrived at Nyumbani in 2008 and though her health has been poor and she has some problems walking, Syokuu is grateful for the care provided to her here. At the Village she enjoys the sense of community, working in her shamba, and weaving baskets. Syokuu was one of the first grandparents at Nyumbani Village and is known as a peacemaker amongst the other grandparents.