"To maintain personal contact and financially assist women in Africa who are caring for AIDS-orphaned grandchildren."
The Wakefield Grannies are a group of women offering support to AIDS Orphans and their Grandmothers in Alexandra Township, South Africa.
On a visit to Quebec in 2004, Rose Letwaba spoke about her work to a small audience in the Wakefield United Church. Rose is a nurse in the health clinic in Alexandra Township on the outskirts of Johannesburg, South Africa. The picture she painted was of a whole generation of South Africans lost to AIDS and grieving mothers left to carry the burden of raising their grandchildren to be healthy, educated and socially responsible adults. Rose described a group of 40 such Grannies who were meeting at her clinic for sewing classes, gardening and moral support. Click here to find out about the Alexandra Renewal Project.
Spontaneously, 12 Wakefield women, lead by Norma Geggie (81) came together to help, becoming the first Grannies to link with the Alexandra Grannies or GoGos to use the South African word. In less than a year the Wakefield Grannies were joined by the Concordia Grannies of Rhode Island and the Montreal Grannies. On March 7, 2006, the Stephen Lewis Foundation announced its Grandmother to Grandmother Campaign and at last count there were 30 groups operating in Canada and the United States. The project has become an international movement.
Poverty comes close on the heels of HIV/AIDS as those who should be the backbone of the workforce fall ill and die. The Wakefield Grannies are committed to providing financial assistance to their counterparts in Alexandra. To do this they produce fundraising events; including a concert, a play-reading and a quilts sale.
Each woman also has an individual GoGo to whom she writes letters. It may seem that raising money is the most important aspect of our activities. In fact it did to some of us until we began to receive letters from our pen-pals and from Rose who wrote that “Morale is high in these groups and there is a lot of hope, just the idea and the thought that there are Grannies on the other side of the world who care so much about them, make these groups appreciate life...The sewing club is doing well, they are about to finish their first outfits which include a skirt, jacket and blouse. I am impressed with what they have learned and last week most of them were harvesting their crops. Life goes on. Pass my kind regards to all the Grannies and I wish you all good luck in your endeavour to help African Grannies who are overwhelmed by the pandemic.”
The activities of the Wakefield Grannies help AIDS Orphans and their Grannies in Alexandra Township and the events they produce benefit their North American community. In turn these personal relationships enrich our lives and allow us to play a part in alleviating the devastation of the worst medical disaster in history. Please join us in the Grandmothers to Grandmothers movement.