IWTC Women's GlobalNet #318
Activities and Initiatives of Women Worldwide

GRANNIES IN ACTION: “MAY THIS BE THE DAWN OF THE GRANDMOTHERS’ MOVEMENT.” (From the Grandmothers’ Gathering “Toronto Statement”)
Sofia Binioris
January 17, 2007

1.  THE GRANNY PEACE BRIGADE - 12 POINTS OF PEACE

2.  THE ALEXANDRA GOGOS AND THE WAKEFIELD GRANNIES

3.  THE GRANDMOTHERSą GATHERING

4.  GRANNIES AGAINST POVERTY AND AIDS (GAPA)

 

1. THE GRANNY PEACE BRIGADE - 12 POINTS OF PEACE

The Granny Peace Brigades were started on October 17, 2005 when a group of 18 women, ages 59 to 91, many of whom are grandmothers, attempted to enlist in the U.S. military, seeking to replace grandchildren in the military who had been deployed to Iraq unnecessarily.  The 18 women were denied access, arrested and jailed.  After a six-day trial, the grannies were acquitted of all charges and the Granny Peace Brigade was formed. Since their founding, the Granny Peace Brigade has dedicated itself to peace efforts.

 

In their most recent campaign, the Grannies are issuing the call: Grandmothers Start Packing Your Bags!”  On January 18, 2007, the Granny Peace Brigade will gather in Washington, D.C. for a long-overdue civics lesson.  The Grannies are encouraging groups across the country to visit their U.S. senators and deliver the urgent demand to stop the war and end the occupation of Iraq, taking this opportunity to pressure the new 110th Congress to “honor the mandate of the electorate, act with integrity, and restore the basic tenets of the U.S. Constitution.” The Grannies are encouraging organizations to contact their senators for an appointment to visit on January 18.  However, with or without an appointment, the Grannies are hoping to present their demands, in person, to each of the 100 U.S. Senators.  The demands, which are listed on their website, include a complete funding freeze for the Iraq war and immediate return of all troops from Iraq, repeal of the Military Commissions Act and the human rights violations of the USA Patriot Act, the closing of Guantanamo Bay and an end to the practice of extraordinary rendition and a call for impeachment proceedings, amongst others.

 

For more information on the Granny Peace Brigade and for specific materials developed for this campaign , visit the resources page of the Granny Peace Brigade website at <http://www.grannypeacebrigade.org> or contact at tel: 1-212-533-2125 or email:  <gpbrigade@gmail.com>.

 

2. The ALEXANDRA GOGO GRANNIES AND THE WAKEFIELD GRANNIES

The Gogo (meaning “Granny” in Zulu) Granny Outreach Project was developed by Rose Letwaba, a psychiatric nurse in the Alexandra Township in South Africa.  With the end of apartheid in 1994, the Alexandra Township began offering children’s mental health services but by 1998, Rose Letwaba noticed a decline in attendance at the clinic where these services were offered.  After visiting children’s homes, it was revealed that this decline in attendance was often because one or both of the children’s parents had died from AIDS.  In turn, the responsibility of primary care often falls to grandmothers, who strive to raise their grandchildren with extremely meager resources.  The Gogo project supports these grandmothers who, after burying their own children, must then care for grandchildren and extended family.  The grandmothers have formed a support system for each other and work to develop workshops to provide other grandmothers with the initial tools to begin their own support groups.  There are currently 30 grandmothers involved in the project. 

 

On a visit to Quebec, Canada, in 2004, Rose Letwaba spoke about her work with the Gogos at the Wakefield United Church, describing “a whole generation of South Africans lost to AIDS˛ and grandmothers struggling to take care of families in need of support.  Twelve women from the audience, lead by Norma Geggie (81) became the first grannies to link with the Alexandra Gogos, becoming a solidarity group who call themselves the “Wakefield Grannies.”  Over the next year, the Wakefield Grannies were joined by the Concordia Grannies of Rhode Island, USA, and the Montreal Grannies, and now there are more than 120 groups across Canada and many more forming internationally, aided in part by the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s Grandmother to Grandmother Campaign, launched on March 7, 2006.

 

For more information, visit: <http://www.thegrannies.org>

 

3. GRANDMOTHERS’ GATHERING

The Grandmothers’ Gathering, part of the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign launched by the Stephen Lewis Foundation on International Women’s Day, March 8 2006, was developed in response to reports that grandmothers were often left to care for orphan grandchildren whose parents had died from AIDS.  The 2006 Grandmother’s Gathering, held during the XVI International AIDS Conference in Toronto, Canada, brought together 200 Canadian grandmothers and 100 African grandmothers and project facilitators from 11 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.  The gathering was an opportunity for African grandmothers to discuss their struggles and challenges and begin to set an agenda for support. Canadian grandmothers who attended realized the need and potential for a national grandmothers’ movement to support their African counterparts. The Toronto Statement, which was presented to representatives from UNAIDS and the XVI International AIDS Conference at the close of the gathering, represents the grandmothers’ concerns and demands.  More than 80 new groups have formed in Canada since the Gathering, and African grandmothers have continued to mobilize in their communities through many new initiatives and projects.

 

For more information, visit: <http://www.stephenlewisfoundation.org>.

Information can also be found in the December 2006 issue of łGrassroots the magazine of the Stephen Lewis Foundation.

 

 

 

4. GRANDMOTHERS AGAINST POVERTY AND AIDS (GAPA)

Grandmothers Against Poverty and AIDS (GAPA) is another South African group formed by grandmothers to fight against poverty and the devastation caused by HIV/AIDS. Formed by an initial group of ten Gogos (“granny” in Zulu) and a researcher from the University of Cape Town in townships outside Cape Town, South Africa,  GAPA, now with 30 grandmothers’ support groups in its network, is one of the largest organized groups of grandmothers in Africa.  In addition to offering support, GAPA holds monthly, grandmother-led workshops for new members on nutrition, HIV testing, antiretroviral drugs, human rights, elder abuse, food cultivation, business skills, accessing social grants and drawing up wills.  Since 2001, GAPA has held 28 workshops and trained 928 grandmothers. They have also recently launched a project to financially support grandmothers sending young grandchildren to attend preschools.

 

For more information, visit: <http://www.stephenlewisfoundation.org>.

Read also the December 2006 issue of “Grassroots,” the magazine of the Stephen Lewis Foundation.

 

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