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:
- Update on Cyclone Idai: Food, clean water and bridges
- Spotlight on Grassroots – The Healing Power of Human Connection
- Fundraising Corner: A New Tool to Help your Group Explore Online Fundraising
- Campaign Connections: Upcoming Conference Call and Regional Gatherings
Dear Grandmothers and Grandothers,
We’ve been thinking a lot lately about how significant gatherings are to the Grandmothers Campaign. This is how the Campaign began, after all, with hundreds of women gathered in Toronto, listening, learning and deciding together what a movement founded on solidarity could look like. Since then, National Grandmothers Gatherings in Uganda, South Africa and Tanzania have been a launching pad for African grandmothers to assemble, plan, organize and form advocacy networks to have their demands heard at all levels of government.
Day-to-day, you, grandmothers and grandothers of the Campaign, gather in group meetings to plan fundraising and awareness-raising events, socialize, support one another, and create a vision for what comes next. You gather your community members and loved ones at fundraising events, taking grassroots action in the cities where you live to support grassroots action and expertise on the ground in communities across sub-Saharan Africa.
Right now, across Canada, Australia and the UK, groups are holding fundraisers – both new and beloved annual events. Yet in the midst of this busy season, you still make time to come together, both in person at Regional Gatherings (last month in Ottawa-Gatineau, and this month in Northern Ontario) and virtually, on our recently launched Campaign Calls.
On our April & May Campaign Calls, members from grandmothers groups (including groups from almost every province in Canada, and a group from Australia, too!) dialed in to share ideas about recruiting new members into the grandmothers movement and rejuvenating and energizing groups. Like every gathering of grandmothers and grandothers, it was a clear reminder of what becomes possible when you bring a group of dynamic women together.
If you couldn’t make the call but would like to read about what was shared, click here to download the summary notes, and sign up for future calls too! We look forward to continuing our monthly virtual gatherings, and all of the ideas and connections that will be formed through those calls.
Winnie, Asmita, Megan and Sarah
1. Update on Cyclone Idai: Food, clean water and bridges
In March, after Cyclone Idai hit Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, millions of people lost their homes and livelihoods. Our partners, worried about the effects of the disaster on their work with people affected by HIV & AIDS, quickly began contacting us with updates about the devastation in their communities. We reached out to you, the SLF community, and your response was immediate and generous. It enabled our partners in the three countries to launch life-saving efforts for tens of thousands of people.
“Our partner organizations tell us that their emergency relief activities have been proceeding as planned, and that they are now able to set their sights on longer term reconstruction,” says Leah Teklemariam, Director of Programmes for the SLF. “We cannot underestimate how many lives have been saved, and how much pain has been eased due to the speed and agility with which our partners have responded. In the midst of such profound turmoil, grassroots organizations continue to be the backbone of support, and a beacon of hope, particularly for the many grandmothers taking care of children who have been orphaned.”
We want to provide you with a few examples of these organizations’ momentous efforts, enabled by your solidarity and support.
Cyclone Kenneth hit on April 26, compounding the devastation from Cyclone Idai in March in Mozambique. MATRAM, one of our partner organizations, worked with 32 volunteers in providing 15,000 water purifiers and non-perishable food to benefit 45,000 people, preventing water-related diseases and hunger due to the disasters. Also, the volunteers coordinated with Mozambican government emergency workers and community-based organizations to assess 16,000 people living with HIV who lost their homes and who needed medicines, treatment referrals and counselling after the trauma of the cyclones.
Kukumbi, a second organization in Mozambique, distributed shovels, hoes, seeds, cabbage and other food and tools, along with water-purifying equipment and school supplies. “Our hearts are filled with humility, gratitude and utmost appreciation,” a Kukumbi staff member told us. “The commitment and trust that the SLF has consistently shown in supporting the organization allows us to carry the torch of change, transformation and resilience to the most vulnerable communities. Your gesture will certainly be felt within the affected communities and in the life of each one of our beneficiaries and families who are striving to rebuild their lives.”
Most organizations and government agencies are concentrating on the worst-hit districts and ignoring lesser-hit rural areas of Zimbabwe. Two of our partner organizations have visited 20 households in these underserved areas and discovered that their homes and properties were destroyed, their livestock killed, and their maize and other crops washed away. Traumatized children were also affected, partly because they couldn’t go to school because of flooded rivers and roads. The organizations have helped with seeds for new crops, materials for new houses, and school supplies for classes. Most of the population depends on small farms for their livelihoods, so the agricultural support was timely, avoiding food crises and health emergencies. One community is re-building a bridge. “The community has already gathered river sand and stones for rehabilitating the bridge,” a programme manager from Zimbabwe told us. “These materials are already on site.” They’re now buying cement and steel to rebuild the bridge from scratch.
Organizations are alleviating the suffering of 226 grandmothers affected by Cyclone Idai (including providing them with 50-pound bags of maize) and distributing water-purifying equipment, food items and blankets to 200 people who lost their homes in communities in Malawi. This is the start of rebuilding efforts run by four of our partner organizations.
In all three countries, the need is still great. Immediate dangers include disease, caused by dirty drinking water (because floods destroyed water mains and wells), and hunger, caused by destroyed crops, roads and bridges. These and other effects of the disaster exacerbate the already difficult situations of many people living with HIV & AIDS in communities served by our partner organizations.
“Tens of thousands of people still need support,” says Teklemariam. “They will get it, thanks to the commitment and expertise of community-based organizations – and thanks to the SLF community standing with them in solidarity.”
2. Spotlight on Grassroots – The Healing Power of Human Connection
“They take our needs to heart.” That’s what someone living with HIV said of the home-based caregivers from the Maasai Women Development Organization, in Tanzania. Trust. Love. Care from the bottom of their hearts.
Last month, we shared an update about the home-based care programmes SLF community-based partners are implementing in response to the AIDS pandemic. You’ll read about these programmes in the Spring 2019 Spotlight on Grassroots newsletter which presents astonishing, inspiring successes from our partners in south-eastern Africa.
After speaking with 40 community-based organizations engaged in home-based care (out of the hundreds of organizations with whom we’ve partnered), we learned that they work with 50,000 people and their families, nearly half of whom are grandmothers, children and teenagers. They and others have shared more than 10,000 pages of documentation about their work – and shared the real reasons for their successes. We now share some of these with you.
Because of such organizations, the despair underlying the AIDS pandemic a few decades ago has given way to hope – and to healthy and vibrant lives, such as Pilly’s, who journeyed from a client of home-based care to becoming a Peer Mother who counsels others in Uganda.
You can read Pilly’s story here.
The Spring Spotlight on Grassroots will be in mailboxes soon!
3. Fundraising Corner: A New Tool to Help your Group Explore Online Fundraising
The Grandmothers Campaign online fundraising pages allow groups and individuals to create personalized webpages which can be shared with friends, family, and community members to let them know why they feel compelled to fundraise for the Grandmothers Campaign, and allows their supporters to take action and make a donation right then and there.
Groups who have used online fundraising to support their fundraising events say it’s a great way to reach friends and family who may not be able to attend an event, but still want to show their support.
Watch for a 10-minute video tutorial to be released soon, if you’re interested in learning more about online fundraising, and what it would take to set up a page.
The tutorial will cover setting up an online fundraising page for Stride to Turn the Tide, however, our general online fundraising pages follow the same steps. As always, our Team is happy to help wherever possible, so please contact us if we can be helpful!
4. Campaign Connections: Upcoming Conference Call and Regional Gatherings
Here are some of the ways that members of the Campaign continue to gather across regions to exchange ideas and connect with one anothe.
New Member Conference Calls continue on a monthly basis the third Monday of the month at 12:30 PM Eastern Time. These calls are intimate and informative opportunities for new members to learn more about the Stephen Lewis Foundation and the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign.
We also host monthly Campaign Calls to take a deeper dive into questions and themes that you’ve told us are on your minds. The June Call will be a Fundraising Ideas Exchange!
Join us on Thursday, June 20th at 12:30 PM Eastern Time for a Campaign-wide brainstorm session about fundraising events and initiatives. Come curious, with ideas and questions for other groups, and your own top tips and stories about what fundraising strategies have been the most successful for your group in the past.
We won’t have any calls in July, but will resume thematic Campaign Calls on the third Thursday of the month August through to the end of the 2019 calendar year.
For New Member or Campaign Call dial-in details, RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org, or through the Grandmothers Campaign website: http://grandmotherscampaign.org/get-involved/campaign-conference-calls/