Granny Bulletin: August 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. Community at the Centre: New UNAIDS Report
  2. Fundraising Corner: Food for Thought 
  3. Grandmothers Campaign Calls Resume this Month

Dear Grandmothers and Grandothers,

August is an important month for the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign. It marks the anniversary of the Campaign’s launch back in 2006. It was 13 years ago this week that 100 African grandmothers and 200 Canadian grandmothers gathered together in Toronto, creating the blueprint for a grandmother-led social justice movement.

At the height of the AIDS pandemic, when communities were experiencing the catastrophic impact of one of the worst health emergencies in human history, no one – no governments, no international funders – would give African grandmothers the resources they needed to recover and rebuild. Despite being the ones to open their homes to children orphaned by AIDS, despite devoting all their resources to support neighbours and vulnerable community members, despite facing gender-based discrimination, no one thought older women were a “good investment.” They weren’t “sustainable.” Grandmothers the world over called out these notions for what they are – absurd.
And so, from the very beginning, the Grandmothers Campaign has been a paradigm-changing movement. At the Toronto Gathering, a Campaign was formed, one that respects, admires and mobilizes the skills and experiences that women develop and deepen in their lifetimes. You pledged to use your expertise to raise funds so that African grandmothers could expertly use those funds to respond to the most urgent needs in their communities.
In just 13 years, grandmothers groups have collectively raised over $33 million dollars. This mind-boggling achievement was possible because of countless hours of collaborative work, thousands of fundraisers, and the passion and solidarity of Campaign members that inspires support for your work. This is what you meant when you said, “We will not rest until they can rest,” and based on the number of events that have already been planned for Fall 2019, the momentum of the Campaign continues to surge forward.
Simultaneously, the funds you raised have been put to use by African grandmothers and the community-based organizations that support them to provide essential services to grandmothers and their families. African grandmothers have moved out of isolation, and have pushed through overwhelming grief and hardship, to become leaders and activists in their countries, holding their governments to account and demanding the support they’re owed.
Now, over a decade later, we’re finally seeing the global funders (slowly) endorse a community-based approach to respond to HIV & AIDS. We’re finally seeing the work of African grandmothers acknowledged in UNAIDS reports – though not at the level or the scale that they ought to be. While these are hopeful signs, Grandmothers Campaign members have known all along that progress doesn’t have to wait if you can get the change-makers on the ground the funds they need to save and enhance lives. Thank you for being ahead of your time.
With love and solidarity,
Megan, Winnie and Sarah

You can read the full Toronto Grandmothers Gathering Statement here.

1. Community at the Centre: A New UNAIDS Report

Last month a new report, Community at the Centre, from UNAIDS called for greater urgency in focusing on “communities” as an “answer to the pandemic.” The community-based organizations with whom the SLF partners have known this is the answer for more than two decades. Community-based organizations established strong networks of support, expertise and trust enabling them to implement effective and comprehensive programmes responding holistically to the AIDS pandemic. They saw the tangible and significant impact that’s possible through sustained support and funding.
Global resources available for the AIDS response decreased by approximately US$1 billion this year, even though HIV and AIDS has had a devastating effect on children and young women. The AIDS pandemic is far from over. Every week, around 6,200 adolescent girls and young women, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa, contract HIV, often because of forced marriages, gender-based violence and other situations beyond their control.
The UNAIDS report urges that people take a “human rights-based approach to reaching people most affected by HIV,” which is exactly what the SLF’s partner community-based organizations have been doing for decades. We know that it’s community at the heart of the response that’s making the difference. They’re saving millions of lives. An estimated 25 million people in sub-Saharan Africa live with HIV, more than double the number in the rest of the world, according to UNAIDS. Many of our partner organizations run home-based care networks that result in astonishing successes, thanks to youth leaders and grandmothers in those networks.
You can read the full report here.

2. Fundraising Corner: Food for Thought

We know the summer can be a slow time for fundraising. But with the fall coming up quickly we wanted share some of the tips and tricks we’ve heard that groups have been using and thinking about recently for your upcoming fundraising events and endeavours!

  1. Explore new avenues or ways of getting the word out to reach new audiences.

We’ve heard from Campaign members that asking the same friends and family to support you and the SLF can sometimes be a concern. How might you reach new communities that you may not already have been in contact with, but would be interested in your cause? This will depend on the event and your community, and we’re always happy to chat about creative ways to expand your network! Some groups have gone to local volunteer fairs, others use Facebook, others have reached out to their local “Welcome Wagon” to include information about the Grandmothers Campaign, or have partnered with other service organizations to hold events.

  1. Consider online fundraising pages to help raise funds.

The Grandmothers Campaign online fundraising pages allow groups and individuals to create personalized webpages that can be shared with friends, family and community members, to let them take action and make a donation right then and there. Groups using 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. We know that navigating new technology isn’t always easy, so remember, we’re always here to help and support you however you need — including IT support!

  1. Have Fun!

The best indicator of the success of an event or fundraising initiative is if you love to do it! Recently, on a Campaign Call, groups shared what has been working for them as they think about ways to stay energized and engaged, and how to evolve in response to members’ interests and abilities, and the size of their group. Read those notes here.

Remember we’re here to support you. Let us know about upcoming events you may have so we can help to promote them. Contact us at, or call us at 1-888-203-9990, ext. 0.

3. Campaign Connections: Grandmothers Campaign Calls Resume this Month 

Here are some of the ways that members of the Campaign continue to gather across regions to exchange ideas and connect with one another.
In-person meetings and gatherings are a wonderful way to meet and connect with other grandmothers and groups, but these aren’t always possible when spanning across distances. To help groups feel more connected and share knowledge without meeting face to face we’re continuing to host New Member Conference Calls on a monthly basis (the third Monday of the month at 12:30 p.m. EDT). 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 Grandmothers Campaign Conference Calls every third Thursday of the month, and all members are welcome! We use these calls to take a deeper dive into questions and themes that you’ve told us are on your minds. Join us on August 15th at 12:30 p.m., EDT, to discuss tips, tricks and common pitfalls of using Facebook for your group! We’ll be sharing knowledge to learn how best to use social media for your purposes. 

Here are more upcoming dates of Grandmothers Campaign conference calls and the topics we’ll be discussing:

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