Not your average grandmother

Updated Feb 26, 2018
Written by Aklilu Kassaye; Edited by Sarah Bartley

Our cartoon image of a grandmother may involve a rocking chair, knitting needles and a walking cane, but around the world, elders—especially women—often play an irreplaceable role in supporting young people in their families.

Workayehu is one of these grandmothers. The added challenge of being a widow meant that she also became the primary source of support for her son and granddaughter. Taking on this role at age 50 was tough. “I had to be the breadwinner for my family,” she says. “As a farmer, I had to work hard from dawn to dusk.”

Having little experience with farming meant she came up against many first-time farmer challenges like land infertility and inconsistent weather patterns. Relying on the rainfall to water her crops and poor soil quality meant she could only expect to harvest once a year – not nearly enough to feed her family or earn a living wage. She had to sell cattle or take out high-interest loans to supplement her income for the rest of the year.   

Workayehu has become a successful farmer, thanks to World Vision’s livelihood support. Photo: World Vision

“It was difficult to feed my children twice a day. My children had to face these challenges very often and it was troubling my heart so much.” Like so many grandmothers, Workayehu wanted her family to be happy and healthy.

Providing the necessities for her son and granddaughter was another challenge for Workayehu. “It was very tough to purchase clothes and shoes as they grew,” she confesses. “They had to go to school without shoes and wore clothes that needed mending. It was affecting my children’s school performance.”
When World Vision began working in Workayehu’s community, training for farmers was made available. Workayehu didn’t hesitate. 

Workayehu feeds her chickens, an important part of her family's nutrition and livelihood. Photo: World Vision

Give hardworking entrepreneurs the tools to help them succeed. 

The training sought to equip farmers for success: seeds, tools and even livestock were provided. Now, chickens and eggs are an important part of Workayehu’s family’s diet. An abundance of eggs means extras are available to sell and make a profit.

Workayehu’s granddaughter has a bright future. Photo: World Vision

The tools, livestock and training has provided support, allowing Workayehu to improve the well-being of her family. She can now count on a harvest three times a year, and her chickens are part of her business. “I’m now feeding my family nutritious food,” she says with pride. “I’m providing their school needs and can buy them the clothes and shoes they require. I am now self-sufficient and very happy.”

Aren’t grandmothers amazing?