Personal Stories

Leila Hoogenraad

LeilaGrannyWe sponsor two grannies, one in the Tanzania and one in Ukraine, but it is Esther, our first, that has impacted my life deeply. When we finally met in Tanzania, it was along with a group of us who all had a granny.

To hug and hold this woman after having supported her for a few years, to finally look into her eyes in real life, was an extremely emotional moment. The eyes are the mirror of the soul. Ours connected deeply and I think the picture captures that. There is so much depth in her eyes. It reflects the thoughts I believe she has on why we care, and what that means to her. Unschooled but not uneducated. Life has educated her. And her eyes reveal that to me.

The transformation we have seen in her physically, in picture updates is also deeply impacting. The medical help she receives through the sponsorship is minimal in my eyes, yet has brought her health.

We do not know Esther¹s age, as there is no record of her birth. That impacted me. Imagine being born..just another official papers of existence.   Esther was born in a country, in a place where no system was in place. But it is like your very existence goes unrecognized. You are an unkown. A nobody. Then along comes Dorcas. And they recognize you. They give you dignity. They let you know they care. Your sponsor is somewhere in a place you have never heard of. They care. They have never met you, nor seen your situation, yet they know you exist and you matter to them. It¹s a small amount of money but it makes a huge amount of difference. Imagine what that must do to you? Random peeps caring about your existence.

When we adopted her on paper, we adopted her in our hearts. An elderly lady in the bush in Tanzania. With no children to care for her, no husband. And barely anything to exist on. I cannot help the whole world, but I can help the make the world of this granny a more comfortable place.


Gina Curro

I have been involved in Dorcas Aid America’s Adopt-a-Granny program for about 10 years now. I started when I was in high school after seeing a music video by Sarah McLachlan titled “World On Fire” where Dorcas Aid’s Adopt-a-Granny program was highlighted. Having been raised by my grandmother I have always had a special place in my heart for the elderly. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations and have thus also spent a lot of time studying the conditions of marginalized members of society around the world. In doing so I came to find that the elderly, specifically elderly women, are some of the most neglected members of said society. Dorcas is the only organization I’ve come across that has a program specifically designed to focus on the needs and well-being of elderly women around the world. These elderly women need medical care, basic household items, monetary support and social support, all of which Dorcas provides.

          The first granny I adopted, Mariyah, was from a part of Southern Russia, Vladikavkaz, which neighbors the war-torn region of Chechnya. I knew, having studied this region in school, that it is one marred by poverty and conflict. It meant a lot to me that I would be able to help improve the condition of this woman’s life. I was always kept up-to-date on her well-being and received pictures as well as reports throughout the year of how she was doing and how, since being sponsored, her life had drastically improved. We would send each other cards on Christmas and Easter and I was heartbroken when in 2012 I was informed she had passed away due to stroke. It meant the world to me knowing that I helped make her last years on this earth as comfortable as possible. This woman, like many others I have since sponsored through this program, was raising her grandchildren by herself. This program enabled her to receive medical care she otherwise would not have had and thus improved not only her life, but the life of the family she was raising. So many grandparents around the world have taken on the role of raising their grandchildren and it’s one of the reasons I feel this program is so important.

          Since 2012 I have sponsored two more grannies, one in Egypt and another in Romania. There is no other aid organization or NGO that provides the services that Dorcas Aid does to elderly women around the world and it is a program I will continue to stay dedicated to for as long as I am alive and able.

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