The Stephen Lewis Foundation launched the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign in March 2006, in response to the emerging crisis faced by African Grandmothers as they struggled to care for millions of grandchildren orphaned by AIDS.
When the AIDS pandemic swept across the continent of Africa, it took with it the lives of nearly an entire generation of young people – 35 million of them perished, leaving their own young children alone and vulnerable. It was the indomitable Grandmothers of Africa who stepped in to care for these children. With little or no initial support, they stepped up to care for millions of children orphaned by AIDS – sometimes as many as ten grandchildren in one household. African Grandmothers are central to the life of their communities. They display astonishing reserves of love, courage and emotional resilience, even while grieving the loss of their own adult children.
A dynamic movement of Grandmothers rallied in response. Starting with just a few groups in Canada, the Campaign now includes thousands of Grandmothers and ‘GrandOthers’ in Australia, the UK, and now the United States! Together, resolute Grandmothers in Africa are reclaiming hope and rebuilding resilience, supported by a global campaign of Grandmothers who stand with them in solidarity.
Community-based organizations run by and for Grandmothers in Africa are an essential and life-enhancing source of support. They provide African Grandmothers with funds for food, health care, school fees and school uniforms for their grandchildren, income-generating programs, grief counseling, HIV testing and counseling, essential shelter, and other necessities for them and the children in their care. African Grandmothers have become the experts on what it will take to turn the tide of AIDS in their communities, stitch back together the fabric of their families, and reclaim hope.
“You who are raising the children of the lost–you who are teaching by your lives and by your stories. Perhaps in the future, historians will look back and say: This is when humans re-discovered that we are linked, not ranked. This is when a lethal illness forced females to rebel and males to find their humanity in those who rescued them. This was the time of the grandmothers.”
Gloria Steinem, feminist, activist and author, African Grandmothers’ Tribunal “judge”