Granny Bulletin: February 2018

Granny Bulletin: February 2018

Welcome to the Granny Bulletin, your source for news, stories and information about exciting initiatives from the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign.

In this Granny Bulletin:

  1. The Tanzania Grandmothers Gathering
  2. Thank You: Aeroplan Mile Matching
  3. “African Food for Thought” Cookbook: Available Now
  4. Beds Without Breakfast: Your Home Away from Home
  5. Dust Off those Walking Shoes
  6. Online Fundraising Pages are Ready

Dear Grandmothers and Grandothers,

We hope that you have had the opportunity to read Powered by Love: A Grandmothers’ Movement to End AIDS in Africa. If you have, you’ve almost surely noticed Siphalele Khumalo’s story on page 168. At 68 years old, Gogo Siphalele is the oldest carpentry graduate in Swaziland, overcoming initial skepticism to earn the support and trust of her family and community. In October she came to Canada to share her remarkable story with Canadian grandmothers. At the book launch in Montreal, Sipahele spoke about why she decided to become a carpenter. What follows are her words, as translated by Swaziland Positive Living Project Coordinator Cebile Dlamini:

“I just want to share specifically why I chose to enroll in Carpentry. There were three reasons why: one was because HIV was destroying our own children. We had no money to buy coffins. Every weekend we were burying our own children. So there was that great need (for carpenters and for coffins). Secondly, is because my son was a carpenter, so I chose to become a carpenter because I did not want the skill to leave the family. Third, because I was now the one responsible for bringing food to the table. Shortly after burying my son, the following week my daughter-in-law passed on and I was left with the twins. And my responsibility was to take care of them. Mind you, they were HIV positive and I didn’t know what to do. And I was old.

“I did not want to disclose what was happening in my home at the time … I did not want to share how my son had died … I didn’t know that my neighbors were also affected.…”

After the death of her son and daughter-in-law, Siphalele was left to grapple with her grief and her new responsibilities as the primary caregiver of her grandchildren. Fearing the stigma of revealing that her son had been HIV positive, Siphalele kept the cause of the recent deaths in her family quiet. That is, until she got involved with a community-based organization in Swaziland:

“Only when I heard about Swaziland Positive Living was I able to share. The organization was busy conducting community mobilization in my community and it was targeting young women, older women and teenagers. I approached the executive director of Swaziland Positive Living and I told her what was happening and my desire to become a carpenter. Together we were able to mobilize 10 women to enroll for a carpentry course. In the end, we all graduated and we provide for our grandchildren. There is nothing we can’t do.”

Siphalele’s story is her own, but she stands with thousands of African grandmothers who are caring for their grandchildren and transforming their communities, proclaiming– there is nothing we can’t do!

In solidarity,
Jonea, Megan, Olivia, Graham, and Healy

1. The Tanzania Grandmothers Gathering

Next week 200 Tanzanian grandmothers will gather in Arusha to make Herstory at the Tanzania Grandmothers Gathering. Between Feb. 26 and March 1, they will build solidarity and share their stories, strategies, expertise, and vision for a future for themselves and for the children in their care. In 20 workshops and plenaries, they will discuss the challenges and successes they have had in dealing with the impact of the AIDS pandemic on their families and communities: dealing with stigma, parenting orphaned children, raising HIV-positive grandchildren, ensuring food security, developing income-generating activities, advocating for inheritance rights, and demanding access to health care.

In preparation for this momentous event, we invite you to join us in recalling the four international and national Grandmothers Gatherings that preceded the Tanzania Grandmothers Gathering and their agenda for change that lay the foundation for this Gathering. Click on each of the photos below (or on the links in the photo captions) to read the Statement from each Gathering.

Top Left: The First Grandmothers Gathering, Toronto, Canada 2006 (photo: Eric O’Donnell)
Top Right: African Grandmothers Gathering, Manzini, Swaziland 2010 (photo: Kristina Laukkanen)
Bottom Left: Uganda Grandmothers Gathering, Entebbe 2015 (photo: Edward Echwalu)
Bottom Right: South Africa Grandmothers Gathering, Durban 2016 (photo: Alexis MacDonald/SLF)


As we turn our attention to Arusha, we urge you to follow the Grandmothers Campaign and the Stephen Lewis Foundation on Facebook where you will have access to photos, updates, and videos from the Tanzania Grandmothers Gathering.

2. Thank You: Aeroplan Mile Matching

In our last Granny Bulletin we told you about the SLF’s Aeroplan Mile Matching week and asked you to help us get the word out to your Miles-collecting friends, colleagues and family members… and you did, with great abundance! 

We are pleased to share that, thanks to your support and your efforts, we have met and exceeded our 500,000 Miles-matched target goal!  Thank you!

These donated Miles enable us to amplify the voices of African grandmothers and community leaders by facilitating meetings in Canada and in the 15 countries in which we partner. Aeroplan Miles also help us bring together thought leaders and community workers to share their strategies and experiences with psychosocial counseling, orphan care and home-based health care.  And of course, your donated Miles also enable us to keep our administrative costs low.  Thank you so much for making this possible! We couldn’t do it without you!

While the official Stephen Lewis Foundation Aeroplan Mile Matching Week is over, Aeroplan Miles can be donated every day throughout the year! To learn more about this program or to donate Aeroplan Miles please visit the SLF website.

3. “African Food for Thought” Cookbook: Available Now

In the Fall, we told you that a new cookbook made by a small, committed group of Grandmothers Campaign members would be available soon. We are pleased to inform you that the African Food for Thought cookbook is now available for purchase!

About this Cookbook:
The dream of creating a very special book as a tribute to grandmothers was born after the 2006 Grandmothers to Grandmothers Gathering organized by the Stephen Lewis Foundation.

A volunteer committee of grandmothers and grandothers spanning the breadth of Canada was formed. This group met face-to-face as a complete group only once, but the ideas they shared and the work they created together formed a foundation for the final cookbook.

You can now look inside the pages of this labour of love, learn even more about the 10 year long, cross-national collaboration that created it, and buy your own copy and copies for special others in your life, at The book sells for $39.50 CAD at and $27.99 USD at and Royalties go to the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign.

Click the image below for a video preview of the cookbook!

4. Beds Without Breakfast: Your Home Away from Home

Is “travelling more” one of your new year’s resolutions? Maybe you are planning a trip to London, UK to see Big Ben. Or perhaps you plan to watch the pirouette of the Northern Lights in Yukon, as you sip a hot chocolate and stay warm under a blanket. Whatever your travel plans might be, remember, as a member of a registered grandmothers group you have access to the Beds Without Breakfast programme.

Beds Without Breakfast, or BWOB, is a great way to meet fellow group members while saving money and raising money for the Stephen Lewis Foundation.

For a complete list of all BWOB listings and to learn more about the programme, please visit the Beds Without Breakfast section of our website.  And spread the word to your family and friends, as some hosts accept guests recommended by grandmothers group members.

5. Dust Off those Walking Shoes!

Every June, grandmothers and grandothers from the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign walk in solidarity with the grandmothers of Africa. What started with one grandmothers group in Canmore, Alberta has blossomed into a national event, with thousands of participants and supporters across Canada.  

While the main Stride weekend is the second weekend of June, virtual Stride walks in Oakville, Mississauga and Victoria are already underway! If your group is interested in participating in Stride (whether in a traditional walk or a virtual walk), you can get started today! To learn more about Stride to Turn the Tide, visit our website. And to set up an online fundraising page for your walk, visit or email us at

6. Online Fundraising Pages are Ready! 

Many grandmothers group members know that we have online fundraising pages that can be used to raise funds for Stride walks. But did you know that our online fundraising platform can also be used to host a variety of other fundraising events? A few examples of events you can use online fundraising pages for include Good Words for Africa (Scrabble) events, cycle tours, Dare to Dine events, marathons, and a general donation page for your group!  

Fundraising pages are a great way to spread the word about your events and gather financial support for African grandmothers as they re-build and transform their communities.

Creating an Online Fundraising Page is easy! To learn more visit our website where you will find a step-by-step guide. And if you’re ready to set up a fundraising page for your non-Stride fundraising event visit:
Let us know if you have any questions!    

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