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Granny Bulletin: April 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. COVID-19: How community-based organizations are responding
  2. Stride to Turn the Tide 2020 Goes Virtual
  3. Campaign Connections: Upcoming Video and Conference Call Dates

Dear Grandmothers and Grandothers,

Thank you for inviting us into your inbox a bit more frequently as we navigate physical distancing and social isolation as a community. We’re apart, but united in our solidarity.

It’s impossible to capture the magnitude of our gratitude for the infinite kindness, ingenuity and generosity of the members of the Grandmothers Campaign. While you’ve had to postpone or cancel much-anticipated events, we’ve been blown away by your continued support – pivoting to find safe ways to fundraise, sharing information about the impact of COVID-19 on community-based organizations supported by the Foundation, and simply being there for one another. Each of you embodies the love that fuels this Campaign with your solidarity and community-building work.

There’s a lot that remains uncertain in the world, so we’re focussing on the solidarity that drives change and resilience at the grassroots level. With that in mind, in this edition of the Granny Bulletin, we’re sharing some updates from the SLF’s community-based partners, as well as ideas and initiatives to unite us, virtually. Whether you feel able to think about ways to safely fundraise in this moment, or whether right now, connecting virtually with your group and other members of the Campaign is what feels manageable, there’s options for every level of engagement.

Please continue to be in touch with us to let us know how you’re doing, and to share any questions and ideas that are on your mind.

We are a community, and we will get through this by continuing to support one another.

With love and gratitude,
Winnie, Ruth-Anne, Megan and Sarah


1.COVID-19: How community-based organizations are responding

In  communities across sub-Saharan Africa, the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s community-based partner organizations (CBOs) are known and deeply trusted. When crises hit communities, CBOs are often looked to for leadership and a first response. As the strain that COVID-19 is having on under-resourced healthcare and support systems threatens to undermine decades of progress made in turning the tide of HIV and AIDS in Africa, our partners are pivoting to do whatever they can to safely support their clients. Among the clients in their care, are grandmothers and people living with HIV, who are particularly vulnerable to both COVID-19, and the impact of reduced services and closures.

In South Africa, Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust has mobilized to conduct door-to-door screenings for vulnerable families and households. This is a critical component to South Africa’s COVID-19 response to prevent, identify, isolate and treat new cases.

With eThekwini recently being identified as the epicentre of South Africa’s COVID-19 pandemic, we are pleased to report that starting HACT’s OVC (Orphaned & Vulnerable Children’s) Project team are being mobilized to conduct door-to-door community screening – a critical component of our country’s rapid COVID-19 response programme. …12 of our Case Workers will begin working across areas to screen vulnerable families and households in an effort to help flatten the curve through the prevention, identification, isolation and treatment of new cases.”

In Kenya, Community Research in Environment and Development Initiatives recently shared challenges associated with physical distancing and movement restrictions.

“The minimizing of activities and travel (and business stalls, open air markets not operating) is negatively impacting vulnerable communities, and caregiver support groups that we serve, who live from hand to mouth. These are women who are widows, grandmothers, who have to go to the nearest market place to buy and sell products, so as to get a small profit to put food on the table. In the current situation, this is very difficult for them, and they need more direct support to cope with the situation.”

In Uganda, Reach One Touch One Ministries is working to ensure that every grandmother-headed household they support has access to soap and clean water for handwashing.

“We must not be found wanting at a time like this when the vulnerable need us most. Let’s rise up and do whatever it takes to keep our grannies and children protected from this coronavirus through provision of water for hand washing.”

In the coming weeks and months, we’ll share more updates and information about the community-based responses at this critical time.


2. Stride to Turn the Tide goes virtual

Stride to Turn the Tide is an annual event for many groups across the Campaign. Typically, Stride involves a physical walk, with participants asking for support from friends and family. This year, to stay safe and physically distanced, we’re taking a cue from grandmothers groups who have, for many years, held “virtual” Stride events. This June, join us for Virtual Stride to Turn the Tide 2020.

What is Virtual Stride to Turn the Tide? Rather than gathering for a one-day walk, Campaign members will walk independently (or run, or cycle, or another activity of their choice) throughout the month of June. Many who have taken part in a virtual Stride in the past have opted to track the number of steps they walk each day to set a personal goal for themselves, and to keep a grand tally of kilometers walked as a group. Some groups choose to virtually walk across the African continent where our community-based partners are working. These are just some ideas to share inspiration and motivation (you may decide to just walk for the fun of it and forgo tracking steps!).

How will Virtual Stride raise funds? Another component of virtual Stride is online fundraising. We have designated online fundraising pages at stridetoturnthetide.ca, which allow you to create a team page for your group, and team participants can then join the team and make their own personal page. If you haven’t used our online fundraising pages before, please send us an email and we’ll walk you through the process. Reach us at campaign@stephenlewisfoundation.org.

Can I join as an individual, or does my whole group need to participate? If you are interested in participating in our virtual Stride event, but your group doesn’t feel ready or able to fundraise in this moment, join the Grandmothers Campaign Virtual Stride Team. This team is for any member of the Campaign to join. You’re welcome to invite friends and family to join this team as well, the more the merrier.

How will virtual Stride participants stay connected? Each week throughout the month of June, we’ll send an email update to Virtual Stride participants sharing information about  some of our partners as we all virtually walk from South Africa to Ethiopia. We’ll also share quotes and Campaign shout-outs so that you can hear from other virtual Stride participants along the way. We’re a virtual community, afterall!

To sign up to receive these weekly updates, click here to register your participation.

Can I join in solidarity with the Grandmothers Campaign community? Absolutely! We know these are strange times, and that some groups are waiting until things are more stable in their communities before they revisit fundraising activities. All are welcome to join Virtual Stride, and even posting or sharing about the initiative on social media (without asking for funds) helps raise awareness about the work that our partners are doing in communities and strengthens the solidarity of the Grandmothers Campaign. Please fill out the virtual Stride registration form so that we can be sure to email you weekly Stride updates.


Join us for a Virtual Stride information video call on Thursday, May 7th at 12:30 PM ET. Email campaign@stephenlewisfoundation.org to RSVP, or fill out the virtual Stride registration form.


3. Campaign Connections:  Upcoming Video and Conference Call Dates

While we’re all at home, we still want to create space for the Grandmothers Campaign community to connect with one another. Here are some upcoming virtual and phone conversations that we’ll be hosting. Email campaign@stephenlewisfoundation.org  to RSVP for any (or all) calls.

Thursday, May 7th, 12:30 PM ET – Virtual Stride Info call: Interested in participating in this year’s Stride? Bring your questions and ideas.

Thursday, May 21st, 12:30 PM ET – May Campaign Conference Call: a conversation about fundraising during the COVID-19 pandemic. How are groups feeling and engaging? What level of activity feels right for your community? All ideas, thoughts, comments and reflections are welcome.

And finally, here are three opportunities to attend a “How We Work” Zoom presentation for a look at the SLF model for partnering with community-based organizations, the impact our partners are having in their communities, and how our partners are adapting and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. These presentations will take place on:

Today! Thursday, April 30th, 2:00 PM ET
Monday, May 11th, 10:00 AM ET
Tuesday, May 26th, 2:30 PM ET
Note: The same presentation will be given on all dates, so choose the time that works best for you!

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