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Celebrating a grandmother raising her grandchildren

On Grandparents day, we salute a special woman in Paraguay

By Rosanna Menchaca, communications manager, Paraguay

Oscarina Ozusa was five when her parents separated and her grandmother stepped in to raise her. “My grandmother gave me a lot of love; she took care of me,” says the 56-year-old widow, fondly recalling the matriarch who died at the age of 98.

Ozusa knew she didn’t want to be a single mother, so she married at age 15 and had the first of five children at 19. Most of them now live far away, but her humble home in Escobar, Paraguay is not empty.

Gabriela has lived with her grandma since she was born — ever since her mother travelled to Argentina for work. And, the 10-year-old clearly adores her guardian. “Sometimes when the weather is bad with thunder, I’m afraid, and my grandmother calms me, talks to me and tells me not be afraid,” says Gabriela.

The doting grandma has lots of love to give. Three years ago she welcomed four more granddaughters to her home. And, although Gabriela’s mother returned to Paraguay, the then five-year-old chose to remain under the care of her grandmother.

Ozusa is busy. The guardian of five girls also manages a small farm — with chickens, ducks, an ox, cassava, maize and beans. Her granddaughters help, and they’re learning life skills, too. “I teach them to do the housework, sweep, wash cutlery,” she says, explaining how she is grooming them to take care of their future homes.

Education is also important. Ozusa only went to school until Grade 3, so she’s happy her granddaughters have more opportunity, thanks to Christian Children’s Fund of Canada and local partner FortaleSer, who work with 250 families in the surrounding areas of Escobar to ensure children thrive. “Never before in my community have we had the activities we have in our school,” says Ozusa, alluding to dance, sports, guitar lessons and more, which round out traditional teaching.

She sees a positive change in her girls and their friends. “They lost their shyness; I see children expressing themselves more, they know how to talk, and they are not ashamed,” she explains, adding that she wishes more parents in the community would participate in activities and support their teenagers. She adds: “It’s very important."