Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

North End grandmothers reach out to Uganda

  • Print

As if they don’t have problems of their own, a group of North End grandmothers have managed to buy seven pigs, nine chickens and a sewing machine to help a group of grannies in Uganda get on their feet.

The St. John’s Grandma Support Group, which started more than five years ago to help North End grannies raising their grandchildren, is now watching its fundraising cash help grannies 12,000 kilometres away.

In Kampala and surrounding villages, many grandmothers are raising children orphaned because of the AIDS epidemic, just as many grandmothers in the North End are raising their grandchildren in the absence of capable parents.

"Their hardships are worse than ours, even though we don’t come from wealthy families and we have our struggles," said North End grandma Pat Lippai, who is still raising two 17-year-olds.

"They’re our sisters," added Debbie Strong, who has been part of the grandmas' group for about five years. "We adopted them."

A kid-friendly social about a year ago at the Winnipeg Convention Centre cleared $9,000 and the grannies went on the craft-sale circuit to bolster than amount. They made it official and formed a charitable group called Grannies Gone Global.

Then, last summer, the group’s coordinator Chris Penner linked up with a new grandmothers’ group in Kampala and travelled there to dole out the cash to women with sustainable projects to pitch.

"It’s like micro-loans, except we’re not asking for the money back," said Penner, the former vice-principal of St. John’s High School in the heart of the North End.

Penner is now the assistant superintendent of the Interlake School Division.

Most women wanted pigs or chickens they could raise to create a steady source of income, but others bought a treadle sewing machine to sew clothes for sale. Another woman bought a market stall to resell baby clothes, which netted her an extra $32 a month. One almost-blind, 86-year-old grandmother raising 15 grandchildren started a business selling charcoal, commonly used as cooking fuel.

The extra $4 or $6 a week helps the Ugandan grannies buy food, clothing and, most importantly, pay school tuition. That was a surprise for many of the North End grannies — that the only way to get an education in Kampala is to pony up hefty school fees.

Penner said an 8X10 group photo of the North End grannies hangs on the wall of nearly every home she visited in Uganda.

The North End grannies are now turning their attention to Northern Manitoba, where they hope to offer help to grandmothers on remote reserves.

But they also want to nurture their ties with Uganda. At their monthly meetings at the high school, the North End grannies have a coin jar to raise money to fund snacks and drinks at the monthly granny meetings in Kampala.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Top 5: Famous facts about the Stanley Cup

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Marc Gallant / Winnipeg Free Press.  Local/Weather Standup- Catching rays. Prairie Dog stretches out at Fort Whyte Centre. Fort Whyte has a Prairie Dog enclosure with aprox. 20 dogs young and old. 060607.
  • Susan and Gary Harrisonwalk their dog Emma on a peaceful foggy morning in Assiniboine Park – Standup photo– November 27, 2011   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

  • Africa edition

    Africa is one complex and gloriously unmanageable 'theme' to choose to kick off our 2012 series, Our City Our World, which is why it took up the whole newspaper on Jan. 18.

  • China edition

    Hard-working Chinese immigrants, once banned, have risen to the highest echelons of Manitoba.

  • Germany edition

    German immigrants have played a surprisingly large role in the development of the province.

  • Iceland edition

    Arriving in Manitoba in the 1870s unprepared for a brutal winter, Icelandic settlers and their descendants have left their mark on our province.

  • Italy edition

    Industrious Italians rose from peasant roots and adapted to Canadian society by mastering L’art d’arrangiarsi (the art of getting by).

  • Latin America edition

    It used to be the only time Prairie folks met Spanish-speaking people was when they vacationed down south. More often now, they're the people next door.

  • Middle East edition

    When the first Middle East families immigrated to Manitoba, mosques were unheard of and even yogurt was exotic. But now all that has changed.

  • Philippines edition

    A booming Filipino community nearly 60,000 strong has transformed Manitoba.

  • South Asian edition

    As the city's Indo-Canadian population experiences dramatic growth, its pioneers recall their warm Winnipeg welcome.

  • Ukraine edition

    Scarred by Holodomor, the Ukrainian community helped shape Winnipeg's cultural mosaic.

  • United Kingdom edition

    Manitoba's history is built on a foundation provided by settlers from the U.K., who came here seeking better lives.


Are you concerned about the number of homicides so far this year?

View Results

Ads by Google