Former Charlottetown city councillor Bruce Garrity is in Kenya working with grandmothers who are caring for their grandchildren and living in poverty.

This is Garrity's third visit, and he had already seen a lot over his two previous trips to Kenya. In 2012, he taught at an orphanage. The following year, he worked with street kids in Meru, a town of about 240,000 about a four-hour drive from Nairobi. 

"But then I identified that grandmothers and the children have huge needs so I'm zeroing in on that," Garrity told CBC News by Skype from Kenya. 

"We think we have 400 grandmothers in Meru Town, probably 700 to 800 grandchildren," Garrity said.

"Their children have died, mostly from AIDS, and now they're raising their grandchildren."

'They buried the husband in the backyard'

Garrity was particularly moved by a visit to the home of one of the grandmothers that the group is trying to help, posting a photo from the visit on his blog.

"Her father and grandfather are dead," explained Garrity.

"They don't have electricity, running water. They buried the husband in the backyard. They just don't have anything."

When he was leaving, he gave the grandmother 250 Kenyan shillings - about $2.50 Canadian.

Bruce Garrity

Bruce Garrity meets with a grandmothers group. (Submitted by Bruce Garrity)

"I really wanted to see again how the bad the problem is," said Garrity.

"I don't know how far 2 and a half bucks goes with this lady today but she was some tickled pink to get that money."

Garrity said having seen the need, he wants to do more. His job with the group is looking for money.

"The first thing is food - get some porridge in everybody every day," said Garrity.

"The second one - we need uniforms for school. We have to make sure these kids are going to school."

International work dates back to the 1960s

Kenyan children

Children line up for porridge. (Submitted by Bruce Garrity)

Garrity was in the Peace Corps in the U.S. in the 1960s, working in India.

"I never got it out of my system," he said.

In 2012, he connected to Kenya through Mikinduri Children of Hope, a P.E.I. based non-governmental organization. That landed him a spot teaching at an orphanage.

This trip he was looking for a different approach.

"The big thing this year is I am really thrilled to work with local Kenyans who are not getting funding - they're asking their neighbours for rice and maize and tomatoes," Garrity explained.

"By God these people are doing good work - local Kenyans, not NGOs - but we're trying to help them if we can - doing our little bit." 

Garrity said the work is daunting, and he expects to hear no a thousand times before he hears yes, but he intends to keep trying.

Garrity will be in Kenya until mid-December.