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Granny Bulletin: January 2020

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. Spotlight on Stepping Stones International
  2. Aeroplan Miles Matching Week, February 10-16
  3. Fundraising Corner: 2020 Online Fundraising Pages Are Live!
  4. What does your t-shirt say?

Dear Grandmothers and Grandothers,

It’s a new year, a new decade, and we’re glad you’re here, in the Grandmothers Campaign community. What never ceases to move and motivate all of us here at the Stephen Lewis Foundation, is the abundance of hope generated by the Grandmothers Campaign, and the work of African grandmothers and our community-based partners.

We know the world is a deeply imperfect, and often unjust place. It would be easy to surrender to the news cycle, and be overwhelmed into inaction. But you prove that we each get to choose our response and contribution to the world.

Within the grassroots grandmothers movement is an endless well of forward momentum – of individuals choosing, day after day, to focus on hope, humanity, and progress. Working collectively, each of you do what you’re able, acting in your own way, to stand in solidarity with African grandmothers who are building a future full of possibility for the children in their care, while claiming their human rights.

Here’s a compilation video to celebrate the work that happened on the ground in your communities last year, and the work that African grandmothers and community-based organizations continued to deepen in their communities.

Although this in no way encompasses the full magnitude of efforts undertaken in support of this solidarity movement (that would be a much, much, longer video!), we hope this small glimpse brings home the impact of your daily decision to take action, and to support change at the grassroots level. You’ll see determination, love, dedication, purpose, hard work, and even joy. You won’t see apathy, bureaucracy or despair. It’s with this energy that we roll into 2020, with grandmothers groups already filling the coming months with big plans and big ideas. Thanks for choosing to be here, thanks for choosing hope.

With appreciation and admiration,
Ruth-Anne, Winnie, Megan and Sarah


1. Spotlight on Stepping Stones International

We know many Grandmothers Campaign members and supporters are always keen to learn more about the work that community-based organizations are doing on the ground. We’re pleased to share a closer look at some of the programs that Stepping Stones International (SSI) is running in Botswana.

Stepping Stones International (SSI) provides holistic programs to vulnerable youth and their families and caregivers, focusing on life skills, psychosocial support, leadership skills and community outreach. They are also playing a significant role in advocacy for child protection and against gender-based violence. Below is an overview of the support SSI offers to caregivers who are often grandmothers and young mothers.

Young mothers – SSI offers holistic support for young mothers, including support groups, infant care programs, one-on-one counselling, entrepreneurial and financial skills development. During support groups, young women come together for sessions on issues that affect them, including sexual reproductive health, breastfeeding, goal setting, family planning, HIV testing and care, and more. SSI’s infant care program focuses on nurturing positive relationships between mothers and babies through play and holistic development. The infant care program also engages young fathers (with the consent of the young mothers), to teach parenting skills, encourage co-parenting and promote bonding between fathers and their children. Women also receive support for income generation activities and entrepreneurial training that covers topics such as budgeting, marketing, creating business plans and developing tech skills.

With this support, SSI has shared that young mothers are now bonding with their children more than before. Ready-to-work training and connections with a daycare centre have allowed some of the women in the program to find jobs and earn an income while their children are in care. Mothers in the program encourage one another to start businesses, and visit one another to provide support and assistance, especially to the new mothers. Of the young mothers enrolled in the program, SSI has not seen repeat pregnancies, which speaks to the impact of education about reproductive health, especially contraceptives.

Grandmothers – Grandmothers support groups began with the women making small financial contributions to support one another in times of need. SSI stepped in to provide counselling and financial coaching and training. Over time their support has deepened and they aim to offer seed grants to allow grandmothers groups to develop and implement business plans in the community.

Grandmothers are also mobilized within their communities to address challenges like gender-based violence (GBV) and HIV. Grandmothers involved in the program have mapped their communities to identify the ‘hotspots’ for GBV, and these areas became focal sites for household visits and community dialogues. Grandmothers remain integral for referring cases and identifying young people in need of counselling. They also hold regular meetings called “chat sessions” where grandmothers gather to discuss referrals for services they have conducted, family matters, identification of sexual abuse cases, actions needed, and other societal issues.

SSI shared that grandmothers display a lot of passion, compassion, and energy in supporting one another and the community. The grandmothers have positioned themselves within the community as advocates for women and girls and ensuring their protection and autonomy over their own lives and bodies.

Eight grandmothers are now leaders in the village development committee which is responsible for the development of the village and engaging with other political and government leaders. Some of the grandmothers are also leaders within their religious denominations. As members of the village development committees, grandmothers groups are now known, and can access services and support the community even more as now they have representation in community leadership.


2. Aeroplan Miles Matching Week, February 10-16

From February 10 to 16, Aeroplan will match the Miles you donate to the Stephen Lewis Foundation (up to 500,000 Miles)! We wanted to give you advance notice, in case your family or friends collect Aeroplan Miles and might want to donate as part of our annual push.

What can donated Aeroplan Miles do?

  • Amplify voices! African advocates, activists and experts can come to Canada to inspire, inform and raise awareness
  • African grandmothers can gather, galvanize and lead change for their grandchildren and communities
  • Our community-based partners can connect, network and strategize
  • At the international level, where HIV and AIDS policy and funding decisions are made, more grassroots African experts can be present, heard and counted
  • And, Miles donations help us to keep administrative costs low, and achievements high!

Help us share the love for this special opportunity for Aeroplan members to double their impact:  
stephenlewisfoundation.org/aeroplan

We thank you with full hearts for your ongoing support, and for helping to make Miles most meaningful!


3. Fundraising Corner: Online Fundraising Pages are live

The Grandmothers Campaign general online fundraising pages are live for this calendar year*. We’re excited for all of cycle tours, Scrabble tournaments, fitness challenges and general fundraising that will be held this year.

You may notice that this year we’ve made a few changes to the pages that we hope will make the fundraising pages more user friendly for you and for your supporters to navigate.

To set up a 2020 online fundraising page for your group, or for yourself, click here: http://grandmotherscampaignpledges.ca/

If you haven’t used online fundraising in the past, but are interested in learning more, or are ready to set up a group page to collect online donations, a member of the Grandmothers Campaign team would be more than happy to answer questions and walk you through the process. We’ll also be dedicating our February Campaign Call to the topic of online fundraising on Thursday, February 20th at 12:30pm Eastern Time. Contact us at campaign@stephenlewisfoundation.org to RSVP for the call, or with any questions about online fundraising.

*We’ll be launching the 2020 Stride to Turn the Tide online fundraising pages in mid-February.


4. What does your t-shirt say?

Are you looking for a way to showcase your Campaign commitment and strike up conversation in your community?

Look no further for your chance to order a Grandmothers Campaign t-shirt, printed and coordinated by grandmothers group member, Carol, from the Peninsula Grannies. These t-shirts are 100% cotton (with compacted yarns to minimize shrinkage).  They have tapered necks and shoulder and a tear-away label.  T-shirts available in sizes XS-4XL and in a range of colours. Black, charcoal, maroon, kelly green, navy, purple, red, royal blue t-shirts with the white Grandmothers Campaign logo OR lime, yellow, sangria, heather, light blue, white, silver t-shirts with the black Grandmothers Campaign logo.  They are $23.00 each (which includes the shipping cost to one address per group, with no minimum amount).

All proceeds from the t-shirts sales go towards the Grandmothers Campaign (through the Peninsula Grannies). The last date to order is March 15, 2020. Please contact Carol Schultz from Peninsula Grannies at moosieschultz@msn.com or 519-795-7798.

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