Granny Bulletin: September 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. Voices: Youth “heal, dream and create” at Blue Roof Life Space
  2. Community-based responses to Cyclone Idai in Malawi and Mozambique
  3. Powered by Leadership: 2018 Year in Review 
  4. Fundraising Corner: Taking your fundraising online
  5. Campaign Connections

Dear Grandmothers and Grandothers,
September seems to have come in with a rush. While those of us in the northern hemisphere are enjoying the lingering days of summer, the saying, ‘lazy days of summer’ doesn’t seem to apply to grandmothers group members and Campaign supporters. Over the past few months, you have continued to press ahead with awareness and fundraising, planning, and preparing for the busy fall season. And in the midst of it all, you’re travelling, caring for grandchildren and family while making precious memories.

We always look forward to hearing about your meetings and events and learning from your insights after an event is over about what went well, and what you’d try differently in the future. The Grandmothers Campaign calendar is filling up, and as a Grandmothers Campaign Team, we’ve been thinking about the impact of regional gatherings and how these opportunities bring moments of reflection, learning, and renewed energy.

In the last two weeks, grandmothers and grandothers, gathered in Toronto,  Ontario, St. Lambert, Quebec, and Victoria, B.C.  for special days of learning and renewing our energy and commitment. Women from other regions traveled to participate as well and we have been reminded of how dynamic and powerful this movement is and how transformative the work of community-based organizations can be when they have the resources they need.  

The holistic approaches of community-based organizations (CBOs) are turning the tide of HIV and AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. There is no denying the impact CBOs and grassroots leaders and activists are having, but there remains so much work yet to be done. Food and income security, stigma and discrimination, treatment adherence, and environmental crises all affect children, youth, women, grandmothers, people living with HIV so deeply.  

The creativity, ingenuity and passion you bring to your involvement in the Grandmothers Campaign amplifies the voices of African grandmothers and carries our collective work forward, rippling outwards to bring attention and support for grandmothers who remain the heart of our work. We feel privileged to work in solidarity alongside you.
Over the coming weeks, we’re excited to be visiting a number of communities as the Grandmothers Campaign team travels with Idah Mukuka Nambeya, Senior Advisor to the Grandmothers Campaign, and guests to participate in your gatherings. At gatherings and in upcoming Granny Bulletins, you’ll hear from leaders of all ages who are turning the tide of HIV & AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.

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

1. Voices: Youth “heal, dream and create” at Blue Roof Life Space

Aziwe refused to be defined by a virus or discrimination. In 2014, when she found out she was HIV positive, she was angry, ashamed and afraid, but she refused to go into denial – and refused to let HIV, and the stigma associated with it, to take over her life. Aziwe joined the Blue Roof Life Space, an SLF partner organization based in Durban, South Africa. She made a commitment to thrive. Watch Aziwe and other youth tell their stories in this first issue of Voices

“I once felt lost and confused and… I was presented with an opportunity to rewrite my story… Together we are on a journey of self-discovery and finding our place in this world,” Aziwe shares in this short video.

HIV doesn’t define Aziwe. She won’t allow it, just as thousands of other young people won’t allow HIV to define them. Every week, HIV is newly transmitted to approximately 6,200 young women, aged 15–24. Behind these statistics are forms of gender inequality and inequities that lead to higher transmission rates among women and girls. Blue Roof is one of many holistic, community-led approaches that are improving the lives of children and youth affected by HIV and AIDS. Blue Roof offers access to health services, HIV treatment-adherence support, psychosocial support and career counselling to young people who seek health care or advice about HIV. It’s an example of the successes achieved by consistent, sustained funding of grassroots organizations that are turning the tide of HIV and AIDS.


2. Community-based responses to Cyclone Idai in Malawi and Mozambique

In late August, Idah Mukuka Nambeya visited four longstanding Stephen Lewis Foundation community-based partner organizations in Malawi and Mozambique to hear about the work they do with and for grandmothers, and to see first-hand how their work in response to the AIDS pandemic is continuing and evolving in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai which affected the region last April.

Over the coming weeks, Idah will be speaking at regional gatherings, grandmothers group events and participating in conference calls to share her insights from these project visits and to share updates that she heard from grandmothers and organizational representatives. 

You can listen to a little of what Idah heard and saw when she visited grandmothers in Malawi and Mozambique in the video below.

3. Powered by Leadership: 2018 Year in Review

The Stephen Lewis Foundation’s “2018 Year in Review” is now available. Filled with inspiring stories, this annual report shows how the current generation of youth, along with women and grandmothers, are leading Africa out of the AIDS pandemic.

Read about how the Stephen Lewis Foundation is continuing to partner with community-based organizations who work with millions of children and youth. HIV and AIDS has had an especially devastating effect on children in sub-Saharan Africa: 1.8 million teenagers and children were living with HIV in 2017. Women are particularly vulnerable. Every week, approximately 6,200 young women, aged 15–24, contract HIV, often because of gender-based violence and situations beyond their control. Grassroots organizations support these children and youth, providing healthcare, medication, counselling, testing, awareness, education, school uniforms and food.

Hope Tariro Trust, in Zimbabwe, is one such organization. It has improved the lives of more than 5,400 orphaned and vulnerable children, mainly through psychosocial support and through supporting grandmothers raising children orphaned by AIDS.

Grandmothers, activists, young women, and girls have been leading the grassroots organizations and youth-support groups that have been at the epicentre of a pandemic driven by gender inequality. They’re engaging entire communities, leading by example, and practicing democratic and transformative leadership.

Copies of the 2018 Year in Review are available for grandmothers groups. They will be mailed out and be available at regional gatherings over the coming weeks.

4. Fundraising Corner: Taking your fundraising online

The Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign online fundraising pages are an easy and convenient way to ask your community, family and friends to show solidarity by donating to your fundraisers. They provide the added bonus of reaching beyond your immediate community, and allowing those who can’t attend your event to still make a donation from the comfort of their homes! Over $425,000 has been raised this year alone through the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign pledge pages. Increasingly, grandmothers groups are using online fundraising as a group strategy, but these online fundraising pages can be used by individual members and even non-members.

Visit the online fundraising pages at to set up a team or personal page.

Contact the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign team at or call us on 1-888-203-9990 ext. 0 for more information or support

5. Campaign Connections 

In addition to Regional Grandmothers Gatherings coming up in a number of communities, there are other opportunities for grandmothers group members and supporters interested in getting to know the Grandmothers Campaign better.
We continue to hold 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. 
Mark these Campaign Call dates on your calendar and contact to RSVP and  for conference call dial in details.

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