Granny Bulletin: June 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. International Spotlight on African Grandmothers, their Economic Empowerment and the Movement to Claim their Human Rights
  2. Movement Matters: Health and Wellness Initiatives by and for Grandmothers
  3. Fundraising Corner: Eco Friendly Initiatives and More!

Dear Grandmothers and Grandothers,

As many groups wind down to share visits and make memories with grandchildren and families, and enjoy warm, sunny days after a long winter in the Northern hemisphere, we have been recounting what a springtime of activity it has been within the Grandmothers Campaign.

The Grandmothers Campaign is the reflection of all of you. The energy of this movement is rooted in your collective action, and the relationships and community you nurture among yourselves as you build and strengthen solidarity with African grandmothers. Your commitment and love are woven together with the hopes, dreams and resilience of African grandmothers to form a powerful sisterhood that stretches far beyond the physical boundaries of our communities.

In just the first 181 days of this year, you have organized and hosted more than 200 fundraising events in Canada, Australia, the U.K. and the U.S.A. raising hundreds of thousands of dollars in support of African grandmothers and the children in their care in sub-Saharan Africa. We feel renewed energy and momentum across the Campaign. More than 40 groups participated in 31 Stride to Turn the Tide events this month. There have been dinners, events, games and tournaments, Fabric and Yarn sales, a public knit-in, crazy hat competition, a soup competition, sales, sales and yet more sales. You are sharing your best and most successful ideas with one another across the Campaign and initiating new endeavours to grow the Campaign.


While many of you enjoy some well-deserved downtime, we know that you’ll be thinking ahead to upcoming events and Regional Gatherings and sewing, preserving, baking, training and so much more in preparation. Your passion, ingenuity and enthusiasm is nothing short of inspirational.


Winnie, Asmita, Megan and Sarah

1. International Spotlight on African Grandmothers, their Economic Empowerment and the Movement to Claim their Human Rights

Earlier today, Idah Mukuka Nambeya, Senior Advisor to the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign, spoke on a panel at the United Nations  Human Rights Council about human rights and  economic empowerment of older women, bringing the voices and experiences of African grandmothers into an international spotlight.
Grandmothers are experiencing a depletion of their resources, in every sense – economic, emotional and physical – because of the challenges they face in struggling to support orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs). They have been draining their small savings, tilling small plots of land while holding off property grabbers, and studying new skills to earn more income. Only a few countries with high HIV & AIDS prevalence are providing pensions or other forms of financial supports to older women. Much of their work in communities is done without compensation, as unpaid volunteers.
With the support of community-based organizations, grandmothers are developing innovative savings and income-generating activities and initiatives. They are building a movement to ensure that government policies, programmes and strategies integrate their needs and rights, including income security, pensions and grants, land and inheritance rights, eliminating violence against women and improving access to healthcare. African grandmothers are joining local councils for older persons, land rights and running for election. They are seeking protection of their rights and leading a movement for justice
Watch the full panel discussion, with Idah presenting at 16 mins and 4 secs.


2. Movement Matters: Health and Wellness Initiatives by and for Grandmothers

“Grandmothers are pillars!” The closing line of the Tanzania Grandmothers Statement says many things about the role grandmothers play in their families and in their communities. It also speaks to the social, emotional and physical strengths of grandmothers. Many community-based organizations run comprehensive healthcare programs that include fitness activities for grandmothers to support them in their often physically demanding day-to-day lives.
In South Africa, the annual Gogo Olympics, which were started by Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust in 2011, are still going strong! This year, over 1,000 gogos participated in the 9th annual Olympics, competing in soccer, netball, sprints, running relays, and traditional games. There was also a board games station and pampering station where grandmothers could relax between games. The Gogo Olympics were initially started as an outlet and stress reliever for grandmothers who found themselves at the frontlines of the AIDS pandemic. Today, grandmothers say that the games have transformed their lives, offered social support and improved their overall health.

At this year’s Gogo Olympics, the Molweni gogos team were victorious on the soccer field!
(Photo Credit: Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust)

At ROTOM, in Uganda, grandmothers come together for classes that feature simple exercises to improve mobility, stamina and strength. In addition to physical health benefits, the group activity offers emotional support and levity to grandmothers as they move, and laugh and delight in one another’s company.

Wellness and fitness-focused fundraisers are becoming more and more popular across the Grandmothers Campaign, too! Walking in Stride to Turn the Tideevents and annual cycle tours continue to be tremendous reminders of the power of grandmothers, and new initiatives are popping up as well. Recently, groups in Toronto held a Wellness Day with a blend of physical activities and workshops focused on health, meditation and well-being. An Ontario group will hold a series of talks and workshops in the fall about making the most out of retirement. In the Vancouver area, a few groups jointly launched the “For the Love of Grandmothers” fitness challenge (running through September 8th), encouraging grandmothers and grandothers to set a challenge for themselves and collect donations from supportive friends and family using the Grandmothers Campaign online fundraising pages. From walking, to swimming, to the ultimate push-up, the challenges are inspiring! Groups also hold yoga events, organize weekly walking meet-ups and continue to offer a support network for one another day to day.

3. Fundraising Corner: Eco Friendly Initiatives and More!

This month we celebrate the ongoing ingenuity of socially conscious grandmothers groups who find opportunities and gaps in the marketplace, and step in to fill them! Groups have shared with us that they have begun to make reusable produce bags and beeswax food wraps to replace single-use plastic bags and plastic wrap. This offers a solution to a timely issue, and there is a large market for both products.

If your group would be interested in making and selling either of these items, please get in touch at, and we can share instructions and connect you with a group that currently makes these products.
Many more fundraising events and initiatives were shared on our June Campaign Call, which was, in fact, a fundraising idea exchange! Click here if you’d like to read the summary notes from that call.

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