Granny Bulletin: March 2019

Granny Bulletin: March 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. African Grandmothers: Building their Movement and Claiming their Rights
  2. Fundraising Corner: Grandmothers Getting Active
  3. Beds WithOut Breakfast, Your Home Away from Home
  4. Thank you for your Support of Aeroplan Mile Matching
  5. Spotlight on Grassroots Newsletter Coming this Spring! How would your group like to receive copies? 

Dear Grandmothers and Grandothers,

Today is International Women’s Day. Women, and the human rights challenges women and girls still face the world over, are powerfully front of mind on this one day set aside to promote awareness of women’s pivotal role in our societies.

As members and supporters of the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign, you stand in solidarity with the women of sub-Saharan Africa who stand at the heart of the response to AIDS. It is women in Africa who are most infected and affected by the AIDS pandemic. It is the women of Africa who have led the way in forming organizations, standing shoulder to shoulder to tend the sick, revitalizing communities and rebuilding resilience. It is the women of Africa discovering new approaches to the intersection of violence against women and girls and HIV infection, and raising a generation of children to thrive and overcome the ravages of 40 years of the AIDS pandemic!

The Stephen Lewis Foundation has said it from the very beginning: gender inequality drives the AIDS pandemic. We will never see the end of AIDS until violence, and the threat of violence, is eradicated. Nor until women have the sexual autonomy, community support, and economic power to protect themselves from infection. Until women – from girls to grandmothers – have access to the anti-retroviral medication needed to treat HIV and AIDS, the right gender-relevant supports and services, and are free from stigma and violence, the scourge of AIDS will continue. 

Community-based organizations run by and for women, girls, grandmothers, and all members of the community have made great strides, but there is much yet to be done. 

We want to leave you with these words from Jessica Horn, Director of Programmes, African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF) & Former Senior Advisor, African Institute for Integrated Responses to Violence Against Women & Girls and HIV and AIDS (AIR).

International Women’s Day is a day of power, resistance, resilience, dignity and respect. Thank you for choosing solidarity over charity, and standing with the determined, expert African women who will turn the tide of AIDS, and who we honour today, and every day.

Winnie, Megan, Asmita and Sarah 

1. African Grandmothers: Building their Movement and Claiming their Rights

From the launch of the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign in 2006, it was clear that there was a duality to the grandmothers’ movement. Coming together as grandmothers and grandothers is about ensuring that comprehensive programmes and services exist to support African grandmothers in their role as caregivers and heads of household – from healthcare to grief counselling, support with school fees and everything in between – but it is also, critically, about ensuring African grandmothers have the time, space and training to network and mobilize to demand systemic change in their communities and countries for themselves. 

National-level Grandmothers Gatherings in Uganda (2015), South Africa (2016) and Tanzania (2018) have acted as a springboard for African grandmothers’ movement-building within their countries. And since each Gathering, grandmothers and the community-based organizations (CBOs) that support them have built on the momentum generated during these Gatherings. We wanted to share some of these exciting updates with you, our grandmothers, friends and supporters who have followed the Gatherings closely. 

Committees and organizations to provide support, structure and training at national and local levels have emerged, or are emerging, in each country post-Gathering, as well as a push to have grandmothers represented at all levels of government.

In Uganda, the Grandmothers’ Consortium was formed by six CBOs and provides grandmothers a national platform to lobby for their rights, while offering training to build grandmothers’ leadership and advocacy capacities – something that never existed before. Through the Consortium, District Grandmothers Advocacy Groups have been formed in five areas across Uganda, which train grandmothers to lobby district and local authorities, and are holding three meetings each year with key decision makers in their districts.

The Consortium also works to put grandmothers’ issues in front of as wide of an audience as possible. Through appearances on community radio talk shows, posters promoting  grandmothers’ advocacy and organizing activities to promote grandmothers’ rights at key community events, grandmothers are claiming a well-deserved spotlight, and are becoming part of the political discourse in the country. As a result of the Consortium’s initiatives in Uganda, grandmothers will be increasingly included in decision-making processes and their issues will be recognized in local and national policies. In addition, grandmothers are running for political positions at the local level – and winning! Electing grandmothers to national child protection councils and land rights councils will lead to dramatic changes in the lives of grandmothers, as they will have improved access to services and rights-based policies.

In South Africaregional councils of Grandmothers have been formed, to mobilize grandmothers throughout the (very large) country. One of the pressing issues in South Africa articulated by the grandmothers is the inadequate and damaging way in which child care grants are administered by the government. The grandmothers are focusing on lobbying and advocacy efforts to make significant improvements in the policy and its implementation.

In addition, South African grandmothers are mobilizing around elder abuse and violence, and fighting to make the healthcare system more responsive to their particular needs. They often have to travel long distances to access HIV medication, and stand in lines for hours, only to receive less medication than they need, necessitating another trip and great physical – and financial – hardship.

The momentum is building in exciting ways from last year’s Tanzania Grandmothers Gathering. A National Grandmothers Council has been formed to bridge grassroots grandmothers and the government and ensure that the voices and expertise of grandmothers are heard, amplified, and given adequate support at local and national levels. The National Grandmothers Council endeavours to create and mentor local Grandmother Committees as a next step to provide wraparound support to grandmothers at all levels and ensure that grandmothers needs, demands and human rights are part of every conversation and on every agenda. The Council is gearing up to hold planning meetings with grandmother and local government leadership representatives to strategize on sustainable and effective movement-building. 

The advocacy work that grandmothers in Uganda, South Africa and Tanzania (as three examples in sub-Saharan Africa) are taking is critically important. And yet, for reasons unfathomable to us, funding for this kind of mobilization and activism work is exceedingly difficult to raise from funding agencies.

We celebrate grandmothers groups and Grandmothers Campaign members for your steadfast commitment and fundraising to ensure African grandmothers’ own voices can lead this movement.

2. Fundraising Corner: Grandmothers Getting Active!

Starting to feel a spring in your step? Spring isn’t yet in the air in many communities, but grandmothers groups are getting active (literally and figuratively!) with their fundraising initiatives.

Just today, some of the grandmothers groups in the Vancouver, BC area are launching “For the Love of Grandmothers”, a fitness challenge running from March – September, ending on Grandparents Day. Participants can choose the physical activity that best suits them (ex. cycling, swimming, walking) dedicating their challenge to a grandmother they love while supporting African grandmothers raising a generation of children and youth orphaned by the AIDS pandemic. 

This month, Toronto based grandmothers groups, Brookbanks for African Grannies, Old Orchard Blossoms and Toronto Grandmothers Embrace, are hosting a Wellness Day of yoga, pilates, meditation, qi gong, tai chi and more! 

Grandmothers are lacing up their sneakers to walk in solidarity with African grandmothers as part of the 10th Annual Stride to Turn the Tide walk throughout the month of June. Some groups have already registered and even counting steps and building community support. You can register your walk or get more information about participating
by visiting and contacting

And, it surely won’t be long before we hear the ringing bells of grandmothers on their bicycles as they gear up for cycle rides in September. 

To learn more about or join any of these upcoming events, contact us at or call us at 1-888-203-9990 ext.0.

3. Beds WithOut Breakfast, Your Home Away from Home

Did you know the Beds WithOut Breakfast programme was conceived at the original international Grandmothers Gathering in 2006? It sprang from the question as to how to host visiting African grandmothers and deepen the connection to the Campaign at the same time, and still does that but has also transformed since! 

How Beds WithOut Breakfast Works 
Grandmothers group members host guests in their homes, in return for a donation to the Stephen Lewis Foundation, creating a win-win-win as the guests save money, the hosts get to meet grandmothers (and friends of the Campaign) from across the country and the money supports our African sisters. The originators came up with the name to avoid the expectation of providing the elaborate breakfasts associated with B&B’s, (but in practice many homes provide a light breakfast). There are hosts in seven Canadian provinces, Yukon Territory and now even in England, an easy commute from London. Please spread the word among your friends as some hosts welcome referred guests who are not travelling with grandmother group members. 

You can find an up-to-date list of hosts here.

4. A Thank You that Spreads for Miles!

Last month, we reminded you about the SLF’s Aeroplan Mile Matching week and asked you to help us get the word out to your Miles-collecting friends, colleagues and family members. We are elated to share that, thanks to your support and your efforts, we raised 2.1 million miles! Thank you!

You know that when policy and funding decisions around HIV & AIDS are being made at the international level, African experts must be present, heard and counted! Yet far too often, community leaders, grassroot experts and innovators from the frontlines of the pandemic, are not able to attend. Thanks to your overwhelming generosity, this year we can bring more African advocates and activists to speak truth to power and put the AIDS pandemic back on the global agenda.

Every act of solidarity counts, and every dollar, every mile matters. Thank you so much for making this possible – we couldn’t do it without you!

5. Spotlight on Grassroots Coming this Spring! How would your group like to receive copies?

Every Spring and Fall, respectively, our Spotlight on Grassroots and Grassroots newsletters hit mailboxes.  As part of the greater SLF community, we have always mailed a hardcopy newsletter to each grandmothers group member that we have in our database because we want to update you on the new and exciting strides being taken by the people and organizations that are turning the tide of HIV & AIDS in Africa. 

We have heard from some groups that your members would prefer to not get an individual mailing but rather to send a bundle of the newsletters to your group’s main contact for sharing at meetings.  If this is something your membership would be interested in, send us a quick email and we’ll make that change on our end!  If you’d like us to update this in advance of the Spring Spotlight on Grassroots, please let us know by March 30th.



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