“Happy Grandmas” was especially enjoyed by the guests of honour, Managing Director of Renova Management AG Peter Loescher and his wife Martha Loescher, the social activist. At that time Renu received not only recognition and useful tips, but also won a special prize from the guests of honor. Renu describes how the “Happy Grandma” project works today and what role youth play in the project in an interview with our magazine.
Renu, what do you believe is the most important innovation in your project?
The innovation in our project is that we involve two generations of people to create more happiness. Grandmas will transfer the skills of making environmentally friendly traditional products to youth, and youth will market those products to generate steady income for the Grandmas as well as for themselves. For example, our Grandmas make many handy and useful items which we require in our day to day lives, like incense, straw mats, tiny pockets to hold money or even mobile phones, some traditional food items and many other things that we ordinarily buy in the market, because we can’t do without them, e.g. we (most of us) worship gods at our home so incense is a daily requirement. Young adults can promote these products at least around their home towns or among their relatives. As Nepal is a collectivistic society, every individual has many personal ties, so there is a large network of people even via the connections of one single family. At the same time, we can use social media, our friends in the international community and many other platforms to promote Grandmas’ products, not just nationally but internationally.
The products made by our Grandmas are not merely material objects; they also hold a piece of grandma and her love. I have been selling my Grandma’s ‘tiny cloth pockets’ for a year now. People have been curious to know what other products I can source as they were happy to support the cause of enhancing grandma’s well-being by buying useful products from her. From this experience came the idea of involving more youths and helping many Grandmas with traditional craftsmanship skills! For this year, at least, we have located our project and activity in Kathmandu valley, the capital of Nepal. The valley is a focal point for traditional Nepalese craftsmanship. We plan to continue this project for a year as a pilot project. We have already started our work on the coming year, as we planned.
How exactly will you help elderly women to feel happier?
Our project’s most original feature is its appeal to the heart. To paraphrase a comment made by Ms. Lorraine Nugent, managing director at Media Word Waves & director at Young Start-up Talent, ‘Happy Grandma has redefined youth entrepreneurship’. Our project establishes a whole new field of employment for young people, and in the end everybody does well. Grandmas make environmentally friendly products using their traditional craftsmanship, young adults market the products, and in a virtuous cycle, the Grandmas are happy!
How do you describe the situation of youth in Nepal today?
Today’s youth are tomorrow’s nation builders. Young adults today have voices enriched by the knowledge gained from national and international sources. However, the irony of our country is that its young people are groomed to follow rather than to lead, they are taught to work rather than to earn, they have been programmed to ask for service rather than give service themselves. Yet as silver linings often occur in dark clouds, there are young people who are working to redefine leadership, entrepreneurship and social work. We believe we are one among them!
You can find more details about the Happy Grandma Project on Youth Map.
About Renu Shakya
Renu Shakya was born in 1983 in Patan, a traditional Newar city in Nepal. Renu has actively served in various youth organizations. In 2012, she received a TIRI fellowship (Targeted Investment on Research Impact) from Colorado State University, in the USA. As a TIRI fellow, she conducted research in the Humla district of
Nepal. Her research focused on enhancing the well-being of herders. Currently, Renu is working towards her master’s in psychology at Tribhuvan University, focusing her research paper in in the field of positive psychology.