Many service organizations lend a hand to neighbors and those who live locally. That’s understandable, because the help benefits the community.
However, one local organization is making a difference in the lives of elderly women and children living more than 8,000 miles away, and has done so for a decade.
The Granny Connection, founded in 2008, supports grandmothers in Africa who are raising children that were orphaned because of HIV/AIDs.
Specifically, the organization aids grandmothers living in neighborhood of Matero, in the African country of Zambia, who serve as primary caregivers of the children.
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Granny Connection is dedicated to encouraging self-sufficiency in communities affected by the disease through micro loans, business training and health care services.
The idea for creating a charity such as Granny Connection came to Ann Jones after she visited Africa in 2001, and saw the impact of that HIV/AIDS was there.
She and other local grandmothers — although the group is open to anyone — sew clothes for the children and send them to Matero. When Jones visits Matero every other year, she takes food and supplies for the residents. On the most recent trip, she took pill containers to help residents manage medications, and small solar lights to help children without electricity do homework.
More than 400 African families benefit from the program.
What’s encouraging is that Granny Connection gets annual assistance from high school students, usually as a way to complete service hours and complete projects. Some, though, are motivated more by the group’s purpose.
Seven student volunteers this year sewed outfits and crocheted scarves, making 141 new pieces of clothing for the children.
The group’s efforts aren’t limited to Africa. They help at home, too.
Members and student volunteers knit red scarves for AIDS Awareness Month, and each December tie them to trees along Washington Street for passersby who might need one to stay warm.
Granny Connection and its members exemplify the idea that helping others is good and needed, and not constrained by geographical areas or limited to people of certain ages. Their contributions have made this community and this world a better place.
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To learn more about the Granny Connection, go online at grannyconnection.org, call 812-342-4680 or send an email to [email protected].