Fri, March 27, 2009
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2009-03-27 02:24:10 GMT2009-03-27 10:24:10 (Beijing Time)  Reuters

A new "grannies-for-rent" service in Poland brings together elderly people without families, and people who miss having real grandparents.

They look like three generations of the same family.

But Maria isn't actually related to 10-year-old Asia and her mother - instead she's a "rented" granny.

Their hometown in Poland has just started a "rent-a-grandparent" programme.

It brings together elderly people without families with people who don't have real grandparents.

SOUNDBITE: Maria Orlowska, Hired grandmother, saying (Polish):

"I come from a multi-generation family. We always had a lot of people to stay during the holidays, there was my grandmother, my aunt. Now Asia and her family fill this gap for me. We get together for every holiday. We sing Christmas carols and we will have lots of fun finding the Easter rabbit."

Without her "rented" granny, Asia would be alone when her mother Iwona is at work at a local factory, as her father works in Holland.

Maria is a retired teacher.

And she does all things a grandmother would normally do, including helping Asia with her homework.

SOUNDBITE: Asia Porombka, "Granddaughter", saying (Polish):

"I like spending time with my grandmother. She is so happy and nice and she helps me with everything."

The "rent-a-grandparent" scheme was set up by Silesia University for the Elderly, an association which organises activities for pensioners.

SOUNDBITE: Piotr Klima, Head of Silesia University for the Elderly, saying (Polish):

"It turns out that children yearn for the tradition of having a grandmother and grandfather in the family in order to spend time with them and listen to stories. Children really need that and long for it. We can also pass our hobbies and interests on to our grandchildren."

The university doesn't charge anything for the service.

And all generations say they get a lot out of spending time together.

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