Granny Bulletin: April 2019

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. Home-Based Care: The Healing Power of Human Connection
  2. Updated UNAIDS Statistics on HIV Infection rates amongst Children and Youth
  3. Upcoming Campaign Calls: Recruiting New Members and More
  4. Fundraising Corner: There’s a Fabric Frenzy Coming Up
  5. Are You Ready to Stride to Turn the Tide?
  6. Mother’s Day Tributes: Honouring Mothers and Grandmothers

Dear Grandmothers and Grandothers,

Last week, we shared an update about the community mobilization in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe in response to Cyclone Idai. It was important to us that you hear what our partners are saying. We have been humbled by your responses – whether you shared the Special Granny Bulletin, our Facebook post with your friends and family, or gave a special gift to the Emergency Response Fund. Your solidarity, as always, is profoundly meaningful, and in moments of great urgency such as this, it has a heightened impact and deep meaning in the lives of so many.

The myriad of creative and inspiring events, initiatives and pursuits that you and your groups undertake to raise awareness and funds through the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign ripple outwards and have a deep and lasting impact.

Winnie, Asmita, Megan and Sarah

1. Home-Based Care: The Healing Power of Human Connection

The Stephen Lewis Foundation (SLF) first began funding community-based organizations’ home-based care programs in 2005. At that time, it was palliative care that was being provided, to ease the pain and suffering that people experienced in their final days. The widespread introduction of ARV medication over the past decade has changed the primary challenge for community-based organizations from caring for the terminally ill to helping HIV positive people maintain their health.

The need for the CBOs’ intervention remains urgent because their home-based care programmes fill a logistical and human gap that cannot be filled by simply supplying ARV medication to government-sponsored health facilities. Why? Because a prescription for medication neglects the crucial support that people need to manage the myriad of psychological and practical challenges involved in coming to terms with an HIV positive diagnosis and successfully maintaining treatment over time, not to mention the tremendous, often insurmountable, economic and geographic difficulty that many people experience trying to access medication.

In recent years, the SLF has undertaken a major initiative to build the organization’s capacity to assess the effectiveness and impact of its programme funding. Our Impact Assessment Framework, along with in-person discussions and interviews with our community-based partners allows us to collect and compile their narrative reports and deep insights into the transforming power of home-based care.

Today we’d like to share some of these insights with you to give you a greater understanding of the innovation and importance of home-based care.

The Power of Connection and Connecting

More than anything else, it’s the human touch and personal connectedness that makes home-based care so remarkably effective. The consistency of always relating to one carer is tremendously important, because it means that the family does not have to continuously disclose their issues to multiple people. And over time, as one home-based carer explained, ‘you become a friend.’

Our partners also highlight how important it is for home-based carers to be from the communities they serve, and many times the carers are former clients themselves of home-based care programmes.

There are a thousand different obstacles waiting on clients’ path to successful ARV treatment adherence. Home-based care visits provide the opportunity to identify all of the stresses and strains that could impede adherence, and they allow hidden family issues to come to the surface. The initial reason for a visit may be to check up on an individual client’s progress, but soon the client starts opening up about difficulties with children, the need for school assistance, or another family member’s refusal to get tested or take treatment. Nutritional deficits are a frequent problem, and clients are often provided with temporary direct food support, and guidance on food preparation and how to plant vegetable gardens. The stigma and shunning that HIV positive people are still exposed to can be emotionally devastating and isolating, and the willingness of home-based carers to ‘come closer’ to people living with HIV contributes to restoring supportive, loving family environments.

One of the most important contributions made by home-based care workers is the way in which they connect people up to the other forms of support that are available out there in the world. Home-based care workers make people feel that they are part of their communities again, and they also connect people up in very concrete and practical ways to services that can help put them back on their feet again.

The widespread availability of ARV medication has also brought about a big change in the interaction between community-based caregivers and government sponsored health services.  In the past they didn’t have much to do with each other, and the government did not especially respect or value the CBOs’ role. While many CBOs continue to struggle for proper recognition, the increasing trend is towards the development of mutually supportive and productive relationships.

The Multiplier Effect of Home-Based Care

Millions of people that the mainstream HIV & AIDS response chronically fails to engage—especially children, girls and young women, grandmothers, and people living in remote and rural areas—are now living healthy lives, with real hope for the future, thanks to the efforts of community-based organizations. CBOs are reporting tremendous treatment adherence results, and clients who successfully graduate from home-based care support frequently become home-based care providers themselves. The care that the CBOs are giving to the people in their communities is generating an even greater capacity for these communities to care for themselves. Home-based care programmes, with their holistic approach, are making the resources that governments have invested in supplying ARV medication to the hospitals and clinics infinitely more effective.

Home-based care has become an essential part of the solution to the HIV & AIDS pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa. The real question now is how it will be funded. Government-sponsored health facilities are clearly coming to recognize the importance of the contribution the CBOs are making, as is abundantly evidenced by their greatly improved working relations with these organizations, the consistent development of mutual referral networks, and the integration of the CBOs’ home-based care providers into many aspect of the facilities’ own operations.

Unfortunately, this recognition has not yet translated into national governments increasing the financial resources they are willing to provide to community-based groups. Similarly, international HIV & AIDS funders seem on the brink of ‘discovering’ the community-based response. This change is most welcome, but it remains to be seen how this interest will actually translate into programme funding. The big players – organizations that implement massive, multi-million dollar programmes – are not currently talking about increasing their financial support to community-based organizations.

They’re talking about how they can pick up on some of the CBOs’ ideas, and then try to integrate them into their own programmes, directed by their headquarters and implemented by international staff.

The community-based response is not some sort of mathematical equation that can be mechanically applied by anyone, anywhere. There’s a real magic in how it works, and this is the magic of the local people who ‘have home-based care in our veins’. The big challenge in the coming years will be to table the evidence that this is so, and to bring some of the larger and more powerful HIV & AIDS funders on board.

2. Updated UNAIDS Statistics on HIV Infection rates amongst Children and Youth 

On International Women’s Day 2019, UNAIDS released a special statement, citing devastating statistics about rising HIV infection rates amongst children and youth, and imploring the international community to act, and to act with urgency.

What we already knew – that gender-based violence and violations of women’s rights go hand-in-hand with an increase in HIV infection rates – is now horrifically told through numbers. AIDS-related illnesses remain the leading cause of death for women aged 15–49 years globally. In 2017, 66% of new HIV infections among 10–19-year-olds were among females globally—in eastern and southern Africa, 79% of new HIV infections among 10–19-year-olds were among females.

What other stories do these numbers tell us? They tell us, clearly, that community-based organizations need a groundswell of support to keep running their responsive, inclusive, by-and-for-the-community programmes, and to run more of them to reach more people and more communities.

It’s no coincidence that this is the conclusion that can be drawn from every new statistic that comes to light regarding HIV & AIDS. Because no international funders or organizations who implement programmes from the outside in are taking an approach as integrated and comprehensive as the work being done at the grassroots level. Within their umbrella of programmes, community-based organizations are offering support for young women, mothers, grandmothers, and this support encompasses so many intertwined interventions – income generation to support economic independence and lift families out of poverty, support groups, education, legal services, and that’s just scratching the surface. And within every unique program and initiative, these community-based organizations are steadfast in making sure the voices of women (of all ages) lead the way.

So while these statistics are heart wrenching, know that there are tenacious, determined and powerful African women supported by community-based organizations, taking the lead to bring an end to the scourge of AIDS and your acts of solidarity by raising funds and amplifying African grandmothers support their efforts.

3. Upcoming Campaign Calls: Recruiting New Members and More

We’re excited to launch a series of upcoming thematic Campaign Conference Calls for grandmothers groups and members to exchange ideas, best practices, tips and tricks and strengthen our community.

Join us on the 3rd Thursday of each month at 12:30pm EDT.

Thursday, April 18: Recruiting and Retaining New Members
What kind of outreach is your group engaged in to connect and recruit new members? Exchange strategies and tips that your group is finding successful for recruiting and engaging new members.

Thursday, May 16: Rejuvenating the Membership
How is your group keeping members sustained, engaged and rejuvenated? Exchange and share ideas and best practices for integrating fun, and educational components into group meetings and/or social opportunities.

These calls will be facilitated by the SLF Grandmothers Campaign Team to create space for idea-sharing while strengthening relationships and connections across the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign. All members and groups are welcome to participate. Whether your group has experiences, strategies or tips to share, or your group is looking for new ideas, we look forward to inspiration being shared across the Campaign.

If you or your group are interested in participating in any of these calls, please RSVP to and we’ll provide you with the conference dial-in details. If you can’t make the call but would like to access the summary document that will follow from the call, email us and we’ll share the information with you.

4. Fundraising Corner: There’s a Fabric Frenzy Coming Up!

Well, it’s more than just a fabric frenzy. Fabric sales are a popular fundraising initiative for many grandmothers groups, and alongside fabric bargains, customers will also find yarn, thread, ribbon, knitting needles, sewing equipment, crafting supplies, etc. It’s a one-stop shop in support of the Grandmothers Campaign.

Don’t miss these upcoming sales!

Friday, April 26 & Saturday, April 27: Ujamaa Grandmas host their Fabric & Yarn Sale at Woodcliff United Church, Calgary, AB 2:30-7:30pm on Friday and 9am-2pm on Saturday.

Saturday, April 27: GrammaLink Africa host their Fabulous Fabric Sale at Gaetz Memorial United Church, Red Deer, AB from 9am-2pm.

Saturday, April 27: Grandmothers for Grandmothers Regina host their Fabric, Yarn & More Sale at Glen Elm Church of Christ in Regina, SK from 10am-3pm.

Saturday, April 27: G’Ma Circle of Charlottetown host their Fabric Sale at Spring Park United Church, Charlottetown, PEI from 9am-12noon.

Saturday, May 4: The GANG host their Fabulous Fabric Frenzy at Hardisty School in Edmonton, AB from 9am-3:30pm. (Admission $2)

Saturday, May 4: The Fabric & Yarn Sale at Saint Vincent de Paul Church in Dartmouth, NS from 9am-1pm is a collaborative initiative of grandmothers groups including Annie’s Grannies, Bay Grandmothers, Bedford Grannies, Cole Harbour-Dartmouth Grannies, Dartmouth Grannies, Malaika Grandmothers, Sackville Grandmothers, Supporting Africa Grandmothers’ Efforts (SAGE), The Rockingham Grannies and Ubuntu Grannies.

Saturday, June 1: Grandmothers 4 Grandmothers Moncton host their Fabric & Yarn Sale at the Moncton Lions Club, Moncton, NB from 9am-1pm.

5. Are you ready to Stride to Turn the Tide?

Each June, since 2010, grandmothers group members walk alongside friends and family in Stride to Turn the Tide. Through their commitment and solidarity more than $2.2 million has been raised in support of African grandmothers at the heart of the response to the AIDS pandemic! 
It won’t be long before June is upon us and this year and we’re marking the 10th Annual Stride to Turn the Tide walk. Many grandmothers groups and community members have already registered their walks and some are already counting their steps for ‘virtual’ walks.

If your group is interested in participating in Stride this June, or if you are an individual member interested in counting steps while raising awareness and funds for African grandmothers, we are here to support you and help get you ready to stride.
Visit for materials, online fundraising resources and general Stride to Turn the Tide information, including walk dates and locations. You can contact us at with any questions.

6. Mother’s Day Tributes: Honouring Mothers and Grandmothers

As members and supporters of the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign, you honour the mothers, grandmothers and caregivers in your life throughout the year by standing in solidarity with the mothers and grandmothers of Africa and the grassroots organizations that support them.
Once again this year, we wanted to let you know about Mother’s Day Tribute cards, in case you want to send one to the women in your life. If you would like to send a tribute, you can make a donation in lieu of – or in addition to – a gift, and send a beautiful printed or electronic card to your loved one(s). You can send one of the Foundation’s two available cards yourself, have us send it on your behalf, or donate online and send an e-card for immediate delivery.

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