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Temporary Miracle

African Voices: Divina Nakanyike

Divina Nakanyike

Grandmother

Rakai District, Uganda

Photographed on January 9, 2006

Sitting beneath the banana trees outside her home, Divina Nakanyike weaves together the bright purple, pink and yellow strands for a mat she is making. As her grandchildren cavort barefoot around her, a pig roots in the dirt nearby. Nakanyike grows beans, ground nuts and green bananas called matooke. In good years, she sells some of the harvest to buy clothes. Her face creased with age and her hair thinning, she looks much older than her 60 years.

“Five of my children died, and I'm taking care of nine orphans, my grandchildren. One of my sons was a tailor, another a carpenter, and the third a trader taking matooke to Kampala. And the two girls were housewives. There was really nothing to do. They fell sick. I didn't have options. I would take them to the hospital, but eventually they died.

I can't say that we didn't have problems before; my husband died of cancer. But before HIV we didn't have any problems like now. I have these children. When they fall sick, I have no way of treating them. Feeding them has become a big problem. As they grow, they eat more. If there were no HIV, these children would be with their parents, and I would be on my own and not be burdened with them. But as you see now, they all come to me for guidance and support. My hope is that my grandchildren get a sound education before I die.

If I die before then? It is a great pain thinking about it. All I can say is when I die, I will be dead and maybe others will also come in and help. With God's guidance, I will keep my spirit up.”

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