All around the world, many grandparents say, “If I could be a grandparent first and then a parent, that would be so great.”
Some things are special about being a grandparent. Some say they think they are older, wiser, and more patient with their grandchildren than with their children. Others relish the opportunity to love and treat without worrying about discipline. Whatever the reason, a special bond develops between grandparents and their grandchildren, which is exactly how it should be.
Some grandparents, however, find themselves forging an even deeper bond than they anticipated. In many communities around the world, grandparents are the sole caregivers for their grandchildren.
Grandfather is among these. Being 75 and a widower of seven years, he suffers from “old age pain,” as he calls it. Grandfather is the sole caregiver and provider for his two young grandchildren. His daughter and son-in-law, forced by mounting debts and a lack of work opportunities, migrated to Malaysia and Thailand respectively, searching for better income. They left their children in Grandfather's care in their small, rural Cambodian village.
“A lot of people told me to get another wife,” he said. “But I don't want to. I love my grandchildren very much, and I want to spend time with them.”
But it’s not easy to care for two young ones at his age. Some money trickles in from his daughter overseas, but it doesn’t amount to much. At his age, it’s difficult to work as a day laborer.
In 2016, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) came to Grandfather’s village and invited community members to join a nutrition project that aimed to save mothers’ and children’s lives from preventable deaths. The initiative addresses issues such as access to high-quality health care, nutrition, and hygiene and sanitation.
“I was alone and didn’t have enough to feed my grandchildren,” Grandfather said. “Since the training talked about nutrition and how to improve the health of children, I joined. I joined all the project activities. I even went to the women’s groups. I actively attended all the sessions, especially the cooking and feeding demonstrations.”
Grandfather is now growing vegetables that nourish his grandchildren. He understands how a balanced diet, proper sanitation, and good hygiene support a healthy life. Now, Grandfather has not only his love for his grandchildren but also the knowledge, skills, and resources to better care for them. He’s truly a great grandfather.
The project also set up a savings-and-loan group in his village, enabling members to save and access financial support in times of emergency or if they wish to set up a business. “I can even borrow money at no interest rate,” Grandfather added happily.
ADRA leaders emphasized that the project has enabled Grandfather and others like him to better provide for their families’ health today and their future tomorrow. “Parents and grandparents are leading their families into healthier, happier, more secure lives,” they said.