The Power of a Grandmother’s Love


Elizabeth in Zambia is the matriarch of her family. But this grandmother's primary role isn't only to love on them… she's their provider. And for the past few years, she has struggled.

Elizabeth in Zambia is the matriarch of her family. But this grandmother's primary role isn't only to love and dote on them… she's their provider. And for the past few years, she has struggled.

Through her church and a variety of World Vision programs, Elizabeth can now show her love to her family through food, education, health, and a life transformed out of poverty!

At 65, Elizabeth Petulu is a widow, mother to seven children, and grandmother to 24. None of her children have completed their education and, worse still, none of them have entered formal employment.

“Since the demise of my husband more than five years ago, I started struggling with life—I could not adequately provide for my children; I could not even afford to support their education. As a result, most of them dropped out of school and most left me to look for their own means of survival,” Elizabeth says.

Elizabeth’s struggles have not just been how to provide for her children, but also for her growing number of grandchildren. “Most of [them] were under my responsibility and I had to fend for most of them alone. This worsened living conditions in the home. It was a huge burden for me providing all basic needs for them like food, clothes, groceries, and school requirements," she explains.

Although most of her grandchildren have begun to relocate, her struggles continue with those that remained. Among them is Esther Kashweka, 10, who is among the three grandchildren sponsored through World Vision, who are live with Elizabeth.

Elizabeth says that her life had never been easy until her encounter with World Vision through child sponsorship and her decision to become a caregiver.

“I have never known better days than now after my encounter with World Vision. I first heard of World Vision through our church, which requested me to become a volunteer to work with the organization to assist children in this community,” she says.

“The church emphasized the importance of us church members to actively be involved in the work that the organization was planning to implement in our community,” Elizabeth explains further.

Elizabeth decided to become a community volunteer because her church leaders clearly explained what World Vision had come to do in the community.

“I liked what they had come to do and I wanted to participate in changing the lives of children who are suffering, because I know [what] it means when children suffer. I didn’t know that through my participation, my life too would be transformed,” Elizabeth says.

The real turning point in her life was when World Vision trained her in better farming methods, backyard gardening, and introduced her to a village savings group.

“The training in conservation farming is what has helped me to say goodbye to hunger in my home. We would go into the next farming season hungry because we never used to harvest enough … but this is a thing of the past,” Elizabeth says as she suddenly stands up and starts dancing to express her joy.

Elizabeth, who lives about 15 km from the nearest tarred road, says that child sponsorship has brought a lot of success to her family.

“Child sponsorship has enabled me to be food secure in my home because of the knowledge World Vision gave me through agriculture, savings groups, hygiene promoter … and as a caregiver,” she says.

“Knowledge is better than being given cash money or food. Free money is only good if you have knowledge how to use it so that it can multiply and end suffering in your home,” Elizabeth explains.

Now that life has changed for Elizabeth, the benefits are trickling down to her family, too, as one of her children who had dropped out of school several years ago is now back to school.

“The girl I have sent back to school is the mother to this youngest grandchild I am looking after,” she says as she points at her grandchild, Chingumbe, a 23-month-old boy who is playing on her lap.

10-year-old Esther says that she is happy to be a sponsored child and that she wants to work hard and fulfill her dream of becoming a nurse one day.

“I know that because of sponsorship, my grandmother is supporting my education because World Vision helped her to start a garden and to have a field where the food comes from. When she sells some vegetable and some maize, she buys me books, pens, pencils, and uniforms,” Esther says, looking down while smiling.

Esther, who is second-born in the family of three (two girls and one boy), is in Grade Five. She says that as long as the support for her education continues, she will complete her education.

“I am grateful to World Vision for lifting me out of poverty. I never knew my encounter with World Vision through the church was going to transform my life as it has done not only for me but the entire family as well,” Elizabeth says.

Written by Collins Kaumba
(Photo: 2014 Collins Kaumba/World Vision)

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