Granny Bulletin: November 2018

Granny Bulletin: November 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. It’s here! Grassroots Fall 2018
  2. Fundraising Corner: Crafts, cookies, concerts and more!
  3. Calling all Square users! Share your tips and tricks with us.

Dear Grandmothers and Grandothers,
From the heart of this season of gratitude, and on the heels of a Fall Regional Gathering season that allowed us to be together with so many members of the Grandmothers Campaign, indulge us while we carve out a quiet moment to reflect on the power of this grandmothers movement.

What is so clear to anyone who gets to witness grandmothers groups in conversation with one another, or in action at a fundraising event, is that this is a movement for everyone – it bends and flexes, grows and transforms to make space for every skill, every personality, every talent, every one who wants to join forces with many to take action now.

Workshops at Regional Gatherings focused on idea-sharing and deepening your understanding of the AIDS pandemic and the work of our partners, but they also explored how you each care for one another, and how you all evolve within the Campaign and empower new members to run with new ideas, but also revere the experience and knowledge of members who first answered the call and helped start this movement.

And what unites you all, from coast to coast and country to country, is the unwavering belief in the power of grassroots action, and a fierce commitment to ensure that African grandmothers and the community-based organizations that support them have what they need to continue their life-saving and enriching work, and expand their services and advocacy.

In a recent Facebook live conversation, Kenneth Mugayehwenkyi, Founder of ROTOM in Uganda, and Chair of the Ugandan Grandmothers Consortium (which formed after the 2015 Uganda Grandmothers Gathering) spoke of the transformation he’s seen in the grandmothers movement over the past 15 years of working with grandmothers both in his community and across Uganda.

The Ugandan grandmothers now have national champions – ten grandmothers who have trained in how to raise the issues, craft the message, and reach out to other grandmothers, but most especially to speak to the government leaders. In the last year, they have been able to speak to the Minister of Health, the Speaker of Parliament, the National AIDS Commission, and they have been to the Older Persons Council, and the Ministry of Gender and Social Development. And wherever they have gone, they have been listened to. And now, they are not a small group of women somewhere, they are a force to be listened to. And if I hear them clearly, their next step is organizing grandmothers across the country so that it is their voices every day, everywhere, all the time.

There are moments in this movement. The moments of pain were there, and still are, but the moment that is very clear now is the movement, and the movement to demand their space that they have been denied a long time.” 
(Kenneth Mugayehwenkyi)

Last month, when Zodwa Ndlovu, founder of Siyaphambili HIV&AIDS Support Group, was here for Canadian regional gatherings, she also reflected on the momentum that the grandmothers movement in South Africa has taken on, and how grandmothers have taken ownership of the role they have played in rebuilding their communities.

As we attended the Grandmothers Gathering in Durban so many of us knew what was happening in our non-profit organizations. So when we were there, we were not there for our own self – I went there for the whole community. Even the grandmothers that were from my organization, they were there for the whole community. So we had to educate our community together as grandmothers and face our challenges of not being known as proper people – as being known as people that can sit at home and look after the grandchildren. Gone are those days. We are actually individuals now, doing everything that we need to do, so that we can help our grandchildren as we have become mothers again.” (Zodwa Ndlovu)

Pfiriaeli Kiwia, founder of Kimara Peer Educators and Health Promoters in Tanzania also spoke at Gatherings in October about building resilience among grandmothers, and the significance of the Tanzania Grandmothers Gathering to 200 grandmothers who came together.

It was historic. At first when we started organizing, I wondered if it would ever happen. Would we be able to bring together grandmothers? For them, coming together with grandmothers from all corners of the country, they realized they were not alone. This was their space to share and show our talents. How they manage things like stress, parenting skills, grief and bereavement, talking to young people and children, dreaming of the future.The grandmothers had the opportunity to plant new seeds in their lives, for themselves and their grandchildren. And we know that over time, the seeds will germinate and then be harvested.

The other important part of the Gathering was the solidarity walk. Grandmothers had the opportunity to tell government leaders what they have done during the AIDS pandemic. How strong they are. How they’ve been able to hold the communities together and raise a generation of presidents and prime ministers. We know we need more support from our government for the grandmothers and the children in their care.” (Pfiriaeli Kiwia)

These incredible leaders, grandmothers, and community-based organizations inspire us all. Wherever you are reading this, we thank you for being in this movement, and in this moment with us. Thank you for your intrepid leadership, for all of the ideas you’ll bring to fruition as we continue to move forward, and for continuing to shine the spotlight on the expertise of African grandmothers. And thank you as well, for your creative energies and the time you give, particularly during this season with Holiday events.

Megan, Asmita, Winnie and Sarah

P.S. You can hear Kenneth, Zodwa and Pfiriaeli speak more about their work and the resilience that’s growing in their communities on the Grandmothers Campaign Facebook Page.

P.P.S. You can read more about upcoming events in our Fundraising Corner below.

1. It’s here! Grassroots Fall 2018

At a moment when the resurgence of HIV infections among girls and young women is reaching alarming proportions – 3 young women infected every 4 minutes* – critical programmes led by youth, for youth are making a powerful difference on the frontlines of the AIDS crisis to change this statistic. You can read more about the inspiring young women who are working to end stigma and discrimination around HIV and AIDS in the newest Grassroots newsletter.

Passion and determination fuels their work to support and mobilize young people and to raise awareness about prevention and adherence to medication among their peers.

To request copies and bundles for your group to share with your supporters at upcoming events, contact your Grandmothers Campaign Officer, or email This Grassroots newsletter (and all past issues) can also be downloaded from the SLF website. Click here for a digital copy of Grassroots Fall 2018:
*Women and Girls and HIV, UNAIDS 2018

2. Fundraising Corner: Crafts, cookies, concerts and more!

It’s not lost on us that this Granny Bulletin is coming to your inbox at the height of one of the busiest times of the year for grandmothers groups. The sheer volume of events happening across the Campaign in these last months of 2018 is astounding. (It’s why we also have another Bulletin coming out soon!)  We hope you’ve had some time to browse the Grandmothers Campaign Event Calendar or Facebook page, where we do a weekly round-up of events, to revel in the collective action that grandmothers groups are taking around the world.

Very soon the Apple Route Grannies will hold their Jolly, Jolly Book and Bake Sale, and the Nelson Grans to Grans are getting ready for their Evergreen Festive Floral-Making event. Meanwhile the Mariposa Grandmothers are inviting their community to take a Holiday Cookie Walk, and the Old Orchard Blossoms have organized a treat for the ears with their annual choir concert. And let’s all cheer on the Golden Ears Gogos as they prepare for their annual African Dinner Fundraiser!

If you are intrigued by any of these events and would like to know more, send us an email at and we’ll make sure you’re connected to a Campaign member who can share more details.

3. Calling all Square users! Share your tips and tricks with us.

Does your group use a Square credit card reader to take payments for sales items (crafts, tickets, silent auction items, etc.) at your fundraisers and events? We’ve heard from some groups and Campaign members that the ability to process credit card payments at events has helped them boost their sales to accommodate customers and supporters who don’t carry cash with them. The Square credit card reader easily attaches to a smartphone or tablet and allows groups to take payment by credit card onsite at a sale or event.

We know the idea of processing credit card payments may feel daunting, so we’re calling on the brainpower and experience from within the Grandmothers Campaign to help us create a short “how-to” guide to help your group decide if Square could be a helpful tool for your group. If you are a group that uses Square, and would be willing to chat with a group that is considering using it, or would like to share what you know to help us create this new resource, please reach out to to let us know.

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