A group of Wolfville grandmothers have raised more than $30,000 in 2023 selling secondhand jewelry.
“What we have is like a grandmother-to-grandmother association,” said 80-year-old group member Roseanne Hogan. She identifies as a proud wife, mother, and grandmother, who also speaks for Kings Kikima Grannies.
It is 15 years since they heard about the plight of orphans who have lost their parents to AIDS in Kenya.
Kings Kikima Grannies gets its name from the Annapolis Valley county where the women live and the village in Kenya they support. The group of 20 grandmothers work tirelessly, sorting and selling secondhand items.
The pieces priced from $5 upwards cater to a range of tastes. With donations of vintage Chanel, Swarovski, or costume jewelry, Sharon Stevil, a member of the organization, says all sales help make a difference.
According to the group’s Facebook page, they made $4,140.25 from a Christmas sale in 2023. The donated money is used by the group in Kenya for food, shelter, and school fees for children in middle and high school. Some is set aside for promising university students.
Hogan says the group supports an organization in Kikima, Kenya, that is made up of 27 grandmothers, whose children died of AIDS.
The grannies in Kenya took in 69 orphans, who lost their parents to AIDS. They started in the early 1990s when founder Ruth Keitha, who hailed from Kikima, attended Acadia University. Upon completion of her education, she returned to find orphaned kids back home lacking basic necessities.
Taking matters in her own hands, Keitha connected with her friends from Acadia, Hogan says. According to reports by Kenya News Agency, 1,377,784 Kenyans are living with HIV in 2023.
To help the grannies and kids in Kikima, Stevil was selling jewelry at the North End Vintage Market on Jan. 20.
“We like to think of it as turning one man’s trash into another’s treasure,” she said. The group, she added, is “helping treasure the life of another in Kenya” by giving them the basic necessities by selling secondhand pieces.
Due to the lack of information and the stigma of testing for AIDS, Hogan said many individuals do not get treatment or tested in time. World Health Organization data from 2018 reveals that a total of 470,000 people died from AIDS-related illnesses in Kenya.
Education is key to helping alleviate the situation. In Kenya, the students go through high school and then must take a standardized test. These test results determine if the child can attend university or not.
With grandmotherly pride for the accomplishments of one of her boys in Kenya, Stevil said, “there, you don’t get to say I’m going to go to university, first they stream (test) you. Then if you can afford it, you get to go.”
When they got news that this boy passed his test they knew that money couldn’t stand in the way of his education. So, Kings Kikima Grannies chipped in and he became the first child from that village to go to university.
Research by Nickanor Amwata Owuor from the Department of Business and Management Science, University of Kurdistan-Hawler, said that there has been a continuous rise in demand for higher education in Kenya. Because of this, the university system has been stretched with too many applicants and not enough spaces to fill, forcing tuition rates to increase.
Through events like their annual Spring Bling Sale and an annual Giant Yard Sale, Kings Kikima Grannies has not only been able to follow in the footsteps of The Stephen Lewis Foundation, but has also donated to them. The Stephen Lewis Foundation is an organization that champions health and human rights with community-led partners to end AIDS in sub–Saharan Africa.
Stephen Mbevi is a beneficiary of their fundraising efforts. In a telephone interview, he said, “thanks to the Kings Kikima Grannies my life is higher value, and I am able to support my family.”
Ruth’s letter to her fellow members in Wolfville, published on Facebook in April 2023, spoke about the changing times over 15 years.
“Many of the grandmothers have aged a lot,” she stated. “Times have also been hard, but made bearable by the care the project has offered.”
The group’s next sale will be on March 15 at the Wong International Centre in Wolfville.
About the author
Warren D'Silva, a fashion and lifestyle content creator turned journalist. He believes that all you need to do is find your inner confidence...