Granny Bulletin: October 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. The Growing African Grandmothers’ Movements
  2. Reflect, Reconnect and Re-energize: Regional Grandmothers Gatherings
  3. Holiday Tribute Cards are in Season!
  4. Campaign Connections

Dear Grandmothers and Grandothers,
Here’s some big, happy news: In just thirteen years, more than $36 million has been raised in support of African grandmothers! Your collaborative work made this astounding total possible, which is irrefutable proof of the power of grassroots organizing. 
Having access to a steady, reliable and consistent stream of funding allows our community-based partners, who are directly supporting African grandmothers and the children in their care, to be a constant in their communities. Without the shadow of a time-bound funding term, our partners can focus on building strong relationships with and among community members, knowing that if it is to last, recovery and resilience can’t be rushed. The challenges associated with HIV, a lifelong condition, are wide-ranging yet interconnected and require integrated, holistic care to overcome. Community-based organizations are uniquely able to provide this type of care and support.
It’s also important to note that the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s resolve to fund administrative and operational costs in addition to programme costs – which is rarely done by funders, but is vital for the health of an organization – gives flexible support to our partner organizations. Admin costs not only keep the doors open (quite literally), they also allow organizations to build their capacity, whether that means being able to train and pay staff who are expertly delivering services, grow and scale up operations, or apply for funding from other revenue sources.
With this type of funding, community-based organizations have become, as one of our partners put it, “brand names” in their communities. They are known to be reliable and steadfast in their support, and are sought out to consult on new challenges and initiatives, including government projects.
The wrap-around support that our partners have been able to provide to African grandmothers and those in their care has not only brought grandmothers out of isolation, it has rallied them together and returned them to positions of leadership. Grandmothers are vocal advocates within their communities, demanding that their governments provide the financial and social support they need. (Find more details about this critical work below!)
Though there is still much more work to be done, there is also much to celebrate, acknowledge, and be grateful for. We have endless admiration for the multitude of events you organize, the love and care you provide for one another, and the relationships you nurture in your communities with supporters, sponsors and other organizations.
With our love and appreciation,

Megan, Winnie, Ruth-Anne and Sarah

1. The Growing African Grandmothers’ Movements

The advocacy work that African grandmothers are leading to raise public awareness about their rights, and call on their government for adequate support, continues to deepen in substantial ways, following National Grandmothers Gatherings held in Uganda (2015), South Africa (2016) and Tanzania (2018).

The Uganda Grandmothers Consortium, a collaboration between six community-based organizations who spearheaded the Uganda Gathering, has created an advocacy and lobbying training program to mobilize Grandmother Advocacy Champions in districts across the country. Advocacy Champions speak publicly about grandmothers’ key priorities, and to show up to all meetings held by local politicians to make sure that grandmothers’ issues are on the agenda.

Ahead of the 2021 presidential election, the Consortium is ramping up their efforts and aims to have Grandmothers Advocacy Champions in 50 districts, so that by the time the election rolls around, each district chairperson will have heard from a grandmother about their need for pensions, childcare support and priority access to healthcare. A few weeks ago, Grandmothers Advocacy Champions met with Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda to address their priorities. They asked that discrimination in health services be addressed, and for the opportunity to meet the President.

Following the South Africa Gathering, a Regional Council of Grandmothers formed and have identified the need for a more humane child care grant policy, action to prevent elder-abuse and violence, and a healthcare system that is more responsive to their particular needs. Members of the Regional Council are in regular communication (as they are spread across a large country), and plan to have another in-person meeting to coordinate, organize and mobilize.

In early October, 90 Tanzanian grandmothers came together for a three-day meeting in Dodoma, the national capital of Tanzania where the parliament, and government offices are now located. During this gathering a National Council of Grandmothers was formed. The Council is composed of 12 members, with five of those members forming the Steering Committee, and aims to amplify grandmothers’ visibility by organizing women across the country. They plan to continue holding meetings and advocacy activities to hold local and national governments accountable, pressing for the resources they need for their own physical and mental well-being, as well as the support that is necessary to raise the children in their care.

Grandmothers are on the move, ready to lead national policy changes that will provide support to all grandmothers country-wide.

2. Reflect, Reconnect and Re-energize: Regional Grandmothers Gatherings  

Over the past six weeks, grandmothers and grandothers have come together at regional gatherings in different communities across Canada. Gatherings are opportunities to reflect, reconnect, renew and re-energize! They present opportunities for networking, skills sharing and learning. They are also important opportunities to hear directly from grassroots leaders working to turn the tide of HIV and AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.

We were honoured to welcome Idah Mukuka Nambeya, Senior Advisor to the Grandmothers Campaign, Josephine Nabukenya from MU-JHU Young Generation Alive and Peninah Abatoni from Rwanda Women’s Network to present and share their insights and expertise at gatherings and meetings.

3. Holiday Tributes are in Season!

This holiday season, Stephen Lewis Foundation (SLF) tribute cards are available to honour friends and family, while supporting the Grandmothers Campaign and the grassroots organizations working so hard to turn the tide of AIDS in Africa. 
If your group would like to have cards on hand at upcoming fundraisers, we would be happy to mail them to you. Note that tribute cards are not sold to your supporters, but rather when a donation of $10 or more is made to the SLF, the donor receives the tribute card that can be given to a loved one to let them know a donation was made in their honour.

All cards feature a short description of the SLF’s work, and include the message: “I wanted to give you a gift that is truly meaningful by making a donation in your honour to the Stephen Lewis Foundation.”
Email if you’d like us to mail you a bundle of tribute cards. If you or any members of your group would like to make a personal tribute donation, call 1-888-203-9990, ext. 0 or visit

In November, holiday tribute donations can be made online on the Stephen Lewis Foundation website. Donors will also have the option of sending an immediate e-card by email to the person they are honouring.

4. Campaign Connections 

We look forward to our Campaign Call each month as a time to virtually gather and share questions, ideas and stories. On the October call about speaking publicly and giving presentations about the Grandmothers Campaign, we learned how groups have connected with local organizations, community groups and schools to arrange speaking opportunities and develop ongoing relationships.
If you aren’t able to join the calls as they happen, you can always find summary notes on the Grandmothers Campaign website (you can sign up for future calls here, too). Coming up on November 21 at 12:30 pm Eastern time will be a brainstorming session about how to recruit younger members into the Grandmothers Campaign.


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