Granny Bulletin: November 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. Turning the Tide of HIV and AIDS in the Context of Climate Change
  2. Grassroots: Hope during a Critical Time
  3. Campaign Connections: Upcoming Campaign Conference Calls
  4. Beds WithOut Breakfast, A Home Away from Home

Dear Grandmothers and Grandothers,
We are in the midst of an exceptionally busy season! The Grandmothers Campaign calendar is brimming with sales and marketplaces, dinners, cookie walks, concerts, game tournaments and more. Many groups and regions are holding year-end get togethers to reflect back and look forward. As you do, you hold African grandmothers, and the children and youth in their care in your hearts while caring for one another, your families and loved ones. This movement of solidarity is dynamic and it grows and evolves because of your energy and resolve. Your events and groups are different and distinct, reflecting each of you – your personalities, experiences and wisdom.

We celebrate all that your leadership has accomplished, and all of the ways you inspire your communities with the grassroots action you’re boldly taking each day and each month. We also celebrate the astonishing achievements of the women responding to the AIDS pandemic. The power of women’s leadership across all generations is undeniable.

“A new leadership has emerged, overwhelmingly demonstrated by women, who were and are the first responders in the crisis brought on by HIV and AIDS. At the epicenter of the pandemic driven by gender inequality are grandmothers, activists, young women and girls – all of them leading organizations, support groups and youth-outreach healthcare interventions. They are engaging entire communities, leading by example, and practicing a democratic and transformative leadership.

This is leadership beyond providing school supplies, job training, healthcare and counselling. It is about love, trust and compassion. It is about increasing resilience and psychosocial wellbeing. It is about family and solidarity. It is about deeper commitments to the full protection, fulfillment and enjoyment of human rights by women and girls. It is about tens of thousands of women within the reach of our 125 partners organizations who are working with communities to alter the course of grief, loss and the havoc of HIV and AIDS. It is about leadership that guides everyone, with dignity and intelligence, out of the AIDS pandemic.” 

(except from the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s 2018 Year in Review: Powered by Leadership)

The impact and power of collective grassroots action and leadership ripple outwards across communities. 

Thank you for your solidarity and dedication. We are continually amazed and inspired by your tenacity, commitment and ingenuity as you give of your skills, passion and love to amplify voices and raise awareness and funds in support of African grandmothers. 

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

1. Turning the Tide of HIV and AIDS in the Context of Climate Change

Our planet is facing a climate emergency. This is a fact that communities around the world are confronting in very tangible ways each day. For many years, our partners across sub-Saharan Africa have been reporting about and responding to the impact of changing weather patterns – droughts leading to crop failures and food shortages, unpredictable seasons leading to floods, wide-spread and ongoing power outages, rising costs of food and fuel, and in extreme cases, natural disasters.

It’s not difficult to imagine the impact that all of these crises have on human lives and livelihoods. Vulnerable populations, like individuals and families affected by HIV and AIDS, experience this impact more intensely. Those who are HIV positive need, among other things, a reliable source of nutritious food and clean water to adhere to medication, and dependable access to healthcare. Grandmothers taking care of children orphaned by AIDS need to be able to provide financially, socially and emotionally for the children in their care, and tend to their own needs as well.

While their mission statements may not explicitly mention climate change as an area of focus, mitigating the effects of changing weather patterns is ingrained in the holistic care and resilience-building work that our community-based partners are doing. Our partners are particularly adept at expanding and adapting their services to support communities through the ongoing effects of climate change because they are trusted fixtures in the community. Staff members and volunteers live in the communities where they work and have developed strong relationships with the individuals and families in their care. They listen to the needs their clients express, and work together to find solutions that make sense for their clients’ lives and the community as a whole.

For instance, grandmothers grow gardens to feed the children in their care. It’s part of their household access to food, as well as a source of income for grandmothers, and in many cases gardening is also an integral component to support groups. Community-based organizations are working to train gardeners and farmers on growing crops that are more resistant to drought. They are also providing additional food security to families in the community by distributing more food baskets. To combat the increasing price of fuel, some grandmothers groups are making fuel-efficient stoves as an income-generating project.

Other communities have experienced heavier than normal rains which have caused flooding and destroyed infrastructure, including roads that children rely on to get to school. Community-based organizations respond by mobilizing to re-build after flooding and ensure the safe passage of children to school.

In moments of climate crises, like when Cyclone Idai struck Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe this spring, community-based organizations displayed their expertise by responding holistically, not just to the immediate basic needs but to the many concurrent problems that accompany natural disasters. They provided psychosocial support to those experiencing trauma from the devastation, provided home-based care, ensured that those in need of healthcare received medical attention, and ensured that people had shelter.

After the initial emergency period following Cyclone Idai had passed, many of the international organizations left, yet their remains so much still to be done. Community-based organizations’ response to Cyclone Idai is ongoing, helping to re-build in every sense of the word.

The world deserves urgent political action and momentum around climate change. Our partners deserve the resources to continue, and expand, the comprehensive support they are able to offer to their communities.

2. Grassroots: Hope during a Critical Time

“I was told there will be floods, there will be cyclones,” grandmother Margaret recently shared with staff members of Friends of AIDS Support Trust, a community-based organization in Malawi. Cyclones, droughts and other climate-change disasters affect every country in sub-Saharan Africa, and the challenges are greatest in communities facing poverty, marginalization and the AIDS pandemic.
In this edition of “Grassroots,” read about how community-based organizations are supporting grandmothers as they continue to care for orphaned and vulnerable children after disasters – and about the urgent call for international solidarity during human-rights atrocities targeting LGBTQ communities.
These and other sophisticated programmes run by our community-based partners – in the 15 countries hardest hit by the AIDS pandemic – are restoring resilience for communities, families and the future. Thank you for supporting their work. Read the full Grassroots newsletter or download your copy  here: Grassroots 2019.

Note: Bulk copies of the Grassroots newsletter will be sent to grandmothers groups for your upcoming fundraisers and outreach events.

3. Campaign Connections: Upcoming Campaign Conference Calls

Our monthly Grandmothers Campaign Calls continue to be productive, idea-generating conversations each month. Based on topic suggestions we’ve heard from Campaign members, we’ve set the following themes to start off 2020.

  • Thursday, November 21st: Recruiting Younger Members – ideas for inviting more generations into the movement.
  • Thursday, December 19th: Year-End Celebration – come share reflections, highlights and stories from 2019.
  • Thursday, January 16th: Goals and Plans for 2020 –a group share of hopes and goals for the coming year!
  • Thursday, February 20th: Online Fundraising – learn more about online fundraising and hear updates about new features coming to the online fundraising pages.
  • Thursday, March 19th: Communicating our Message – how to talk about the Campaign with supporters, and in promotional materials.
  • Thursday, April 16th: Donor Stewardship – tips for engaging donors, building relationships and avoiding donor fatigue.
  • Thursday, May 21st: Engaging Youth – how are grandmothers groups working with young people? 

All calls are held on the third Thursday of the month at 12:30 PM ET. There is a sign-up form on the website, as well as summary notes from past calls.

4. Beds WithOut Breakfast, A Home Away from Home

As you’re planning your travels, keep in mind that many members of the Campaign generously open their homes to guests through Beds WithOut Breakfast. Hosts provide accommodation for one to three nights in return for a donation to the Stephen Lewis Foundation. Despite the name, many hosts include a light breakfast and all include a warm welcome. Grandmothers Campaign members, and in some cases friends and family of members, can peruse the up-to-date listing of homes and locations on the Grandmothers Campaign website. Contact information and a suggested donation amount are also listed.

Happy travels, and enjoy making connections across the Campaign!

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