Grandmother Support Group - COTLANDS - South Africa.

Photo by Hartley Wynberg

SLF Campaign Bulletin

Campaign Update: April 15, 2021

April 2021 Summary Notes.pdf

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. Community and solidarity in support groups as a catalyst for grandmothers’ leadership

  2. Campaign Connections: Together in Concert Ensemble

  3. A remarkable Aeroplan Points Matching Week

Dear Grandmothers and Grandothers,

"We need to respect older persons and recognize their contributions."

Idah Mukuka Nambeya spoke powerfully, bringing African grandmothers' voices and experiences into an international spotlight yesterday, at a World Health Organization event to launch the first ever Global Report on Ageism. The report was developed by the World Health Organization, UN Council on Human Rights, UNDESA, UNFPA and UN Decade of Healthy Ageing.

Idah, who is the Senior Advisor to the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign, spoke about the blame, isolation, stigma and discrimination that grandmothers experience in the context of HIV and AIDS across sub-Saharan Africa. She highlighted the ways in which grandmothers have been denied their rights to inheritance and land, the growing momentum of their leadership and their movement to claim human rights to ensure their needs are met and liberties are protected.

"We need to work together to combat ageism. We’ve seen that when we work together, we are creating heathy communities.”

Over the past 15 years, the Grandmothers Campaign has grown into an international solidarity movement demonstrating the critical role of older women in our communities. Grandmothers in sub-Saharan Africa are holding their communities together, raising their grandchildren while confronting and challenging discrimination and stigma. They are advocating for their rights, influencing policies and being elected. And grandmothers and grandothers in Canada, Australia, the UK and US are acting in solidarity, raising funds and mobilizing support in their communities. This movement is centred on the leadership, expertise and the collective action of older women whose commitment to transformative social change and justice challenges ageism and the narratives of discrimination and stigma against age every day.

With appreciation,

Megan, Winnie, Ruth-Anne and Sarah

1. Community and solidarity in support groups as a catalyst for grandmothers’ leadership

Action for Rural Women’s Empowerment (ARUWE) in Uganda brings women, particularly women farmers and their children, together to form supportive networks, that transform their communities. The organization’s multifaceted service delivery model incorporates strategies that consider the social, physical and political environments that affect women’s economic empowerment.

An integral component of this work involves the creation of peer-led support groups for grandmothers. These groups are built around a complex framework designed to meet the multiple and diverse needs of grandmothers. Participants can access peer-to-peer counselling and support and participate in a savings and loans program that helps them meet the financial requirements to launch successful small business ventures. ARUWE provides additional economic and livelihood assistance through training on agricultural techniques and offers supplies and seeds to boost crop yields, enabling grandmothers to grow enough food to feed their families while also generating income by selling surpluses.

The community and solidarity formed in support groups has also been a catalyst for grandmothers’ leadership and activism. Several grandmothers have joined local councils, and ARUWE has trained five grandmother advocacy champions who attend local council meetings to advocate for priority issues for grandmothers. This includes advocating for the establishment of more community distribution points to reduce walking distances to access anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment, sensitization programs within the community to eliminate stigma and discrimination directed at people living with HIV and AIDS, and making government grants more inclusive and accessible for the elderly.

All of this great work is anchored by a robust home-based care program for grandmothers and young people. Home-based care workers are respected leaders and role models for positive living in their communities and are directly responsible for the program’s success. These champions establish trusting relationships with individuals during home visits, adjusting care to address specific individual needs that result in a reliable, personalized experience that translates into tangible, sustainable results. Over 98% of the organization’s clients adhere to ARV treatment – well above the national average in Uganda.

2. Campaign Connections: Together in Concert Ensemble

Grandmothers and grandothers are working collaboratively across the Campaign to organize Together in Concert Ensemble, a special 90-minute virtual concert, featuring music, dance, storytelling and drumming, with acclaimed artists from across Canada, to raise funds and celebrate the 15th Anniversary of the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign.

3. A remarkable Aeroplan Points Matching Week

Thank you for making this Aeroplan Points Matching Week truly remarkable. We're delighted and immensely grateful to share the good news with you: Together, this SLF community raised and donated more than 2.5 million Aeroplan points in just one week. That's the power of community. Imagine what more we can accomplish.

Your generously donated Aeroplan points have demonstrated and ongoing impact for human rights-based responses to HIV and AIDS and COVID-19. By giving your points more purpose, you contribute to 9 UN Sustainable Development Goals. You champion health and human rights across sub-Saharan Africa through your support for HIV advocacy and SLF partners' work, which addresses the inequalities that allow pandemics to thrive. With Aeroplan points, the experts and innovators – grassroots community leaders – can be present, heard and counted at the international level where HIV and AIDS funding and policy decisions are made. They can connect with each other to share important data and successful strategies, and keep HIV and AIDS on the global agenda.

Thank you to all of you who donated or helped us raise awareness about this special opportunity. Your continuing solidarity is meaningful and impactful.

The Stephen Lewis Foundation believes that transparency and accountability are essential. With this in mind, we are proud to be accredited by Imagine Canada’s Standards Program.

Granny Bulletin - April 2021

Welcome to the April 2021 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:

  • 2020 Impact Report

Dear Grandmothers and Grandothers,

From the bottom of my heart I want to thank you for all you did to bring to life Together in Concert Ensemble: In Solidarity with African Grandmothers. It was a wonderful evening of performances that were powerful, entertaining and moving.

know that the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged you to adapt the work of your grandmothers groups and wow, have you stepped up to that challenge! I appreciate how this was a truly cross-Campaign event with performers from across Canada in front of the camera and grandmothers and other volunteers from across the country doing the critical work behind the scenes. Your collaboration with one another and your solidarity with African grandmothers was visible throughout the concert and is unmistakable in your ongoing involvement in the Campaign.

The Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign is an integral part of the Stephen Lewis Foundation and we are privileged to have the support of so many amazing women. What a way to kick off the celebration of the 15th Anniversary of the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign! Thank you, thank you, thank you.

In solidarity,

Meg French

Executive Director

It's not too late to watch Together in Concert Ensemble: In Solidarity with African Grandmothers! Registration for the Concert is open until the last viewing on Sunday, April 18 at 5 pm EDT. Visit:

2020 Impact Report

Economic instability, program disruptions, and the shutdown of marketplaces, are only a few of the challenges that have exacerbated food insecurity for grandmothers and the children in their care since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recognizing the vulnerability of grandmothers to COVID-19 due to their advancing age, and the significant risk of extreme hunger for grandmother-headed households, community-based organizations have adapted their work to support the immediate survival of grandmothers and the children in their care. They have distributed emergency food parcels, trained grandmothers in raising indigenous crops, increased home-based care visits, and provided emotional support to grandmothers and their grandchildren. At the same time, they have continued to provide support to thousands of additional grandmothers through peer support groups, providing COVID-19 prevention education as well as training to shift to income-generating activities that are profitable during the pandemic.

The Stephen Lewis Foundation continues to champion the power of community-based organizations and community-based responses. We’ve said again and again that our partner organizations are best placed to respond to intersecting pandemics. Their decades of experience responding to the HIV and AIDS pandemic, combined with their resilience and ability to maximize limited resources to support their communities uniquely positions them to pivot to address new and emerging needs.

But in even our most hopeful descriptions, we couldn’t have adequately captured the truly remarkable impact our grassroots partners have had this past year. They have worked tirelessly to get HIV medications to rural communities during lockdowns, delivered emergency food assistance to children and their caregivers who have lost their livelihoods, found new ways to offer mental health support virtually, and expanded programming to prevent and respond to gender-based violence, to name a few.

Read more about our community-based partners’ responses and work in a 2020 Impact Report, which highlights their tangible impact and how your contributions are driving change at the grassroots.

The Stephen Lewis Foundation believes that transparency and accountability are essential. With this in mind, we are proud to be accredited by Imagine Canada’s Standards Program.

Stephen Lewis Foundation

260 Spadina Avenue, Suite 100, Toronto, Ontario, M5T 2E4, Canada

Tel: 416-533-9292 Toll-free: 1-888-203-9990

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