Please note that Ms. Penelope Kokwana is no longer working for GAPA. All correspondence relating to GAPA should be sent to the Executive Director, Vivienne Budaza, at info@GAPA.org.za or faxed to 021 364 3138
As part of efforts to assist GAPA with strengthening its systems, Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Denise and Eugenia spent 3 days at GAPA providing on-site training and introduction to financial, management and data tools.
(Photos by Eric Miller - permission needed for further publishing)
The day began with a buzz in the air. From the early hours of the morning grandmothers had started preparing for the celebration of the 10th year that their beloved organisation has been in existence. Grandmothers in the kitchen began preparing the feast, grannies at home began dressing in all the splendour of their traditional outfits and GAPA T-shirts.
Grandmothers walked from the corners of Khayelitsha to a meeting place on Spine Rd. City officials gathered around to make sure that the grandmothers received all the protection and respect they deserved. Placards were distributed reading messages such as “respect the grannies” , “God bless the grannies of Africa” “GAPA 10 years”. As if by design or the build-up of momentum the singing and marching began. Spectators gathered to observe grandmothers collectively making a statement in the streets of Khayelitsha.
Inside the GAPA centre the buzz grew and became louder as the marching grandmothers approached. The tent swelled with over 400 grandmothers, all burdened in varying degrees by HIV, poverty and social ills but today, as with so many days, they set their burdens aside and braced each other with hope, comfort and support. The celebratory spirit was facilitated by the Executive Director, Yolisa Vivienne Budaza.
The day continued with various supporters (Funders, volunteers, board members and community members) arriving to share in the solidarity. A Bonfire theatre celebration (http://www.bonfiretheatre.co.za/whoweare.htm) of the achievements of GAPA was facilitated. Tears welled as we saw drama pieces reflecting the GAPA stories of the audience.
Children of the GAPA aftercare entertained the audience with traditional dancing, all wearing GAPA shirts sponsored by the Global Fund for Children.
A keynote address was given by Prof Monica Ferreira who initiated the research back in 1999 that lead to the formation of GAPA. The message was clear: “Grandmothers don’t let anyone take away your hope and dignity”
The founder, Kathleen Brodrick, gave many thanks to various people within the organisation. Starting with the grandmothers and reminding them that GAPA belongs to them and that they should continue growing in their confidence of influencing the organisation. She continued to thank the management committee and the board members, ending with a thank you to the staff and in particular Althea Barry (Programme developer) and Yolisa Vivienne Budaza (Executive Director) for their dedication to the project. Vivienne has been a guiding light to the organisation, since 2007 GAPA has grown in leaps and bounds. Kathleen reminded the organisation that it was strong and that it was able to solve the various challenges it has had over the last 10 years. Vivienne, Kathleen, Althea and GAPA’s most senior grandmother ceremoniously cut a celebratory cake.
Tias Arms, a new funder to GAPA since 2010, handed over a gift of a new overlocker sewing machine to the grandmothers.
Gillian Warren-Brown and a group of grandmothers entertained the audience with Nia dance. Gillian facilitates Nia with the grandmothers every Tuesday at the GAPA health club.
Vivienne and Althea (on behalf of GAPA) proudly received a PEPFAR plaque from Cheryl representing the new funding received from the US Consulate community grants office.
The afternoon continued with many interactions, a delicious lunch and a gallery tour of the handicraft products created and produce grown by each GAPA group.
A lively atmosphere continued as the grandmothers took to the dance floor, really displaying “collective occupation” – a term shared by a GAPA board member, Frank Kronenberg.
Supporters were thanked with lovely gift bags, each receiving a GAPA shirt. Grandmothers were honoured with Gogo goodie bags sponsored by various people such as the Lions Club of Kirstenbosch and students/staff from ODU, AU and Cedar House.
The day ended with many happy thoughts and memories, but above all with the reminder that grandmothers continue to hold the torch as we march through the challenges facing our communities in South Africa.
We wish to thank the following people who joined us as guests:
Beryl Mohr from Bristol-Myers Squibb
Frank Kronenberg, Elewani Ramagondo and Isha who are board members/mentors
Prof Monica Ferreira
Prof Goerge Petros
Wilma Martin – friend of GAPA and volunteer in the kitchen for the celebration
Joanne Baker. Kim Carpenter and the Tias Arms group
Eric Miller – photojournalist
Ann Barr – Lions Club of Kirstenbosch
Cheryl Coetzer – Pathcare
Cheryl – Community Grants Office US Consulate
Bettina – past volunteer GAPA
And a big thank you to all our supporters who were with us in spirit!
Please be advised that for future correspondence, our address is
P.O.Box 517,Howard Place,7450, South Africa.
Thank you for cooperation.
Dear friends and family
GAPA (Grandmothers Against Poverty and Aids) will be celebrating its 10th year. This is a very big accomplishment for a grandmother driven project in South Africa. In our 10 years we have grown from strength to strength as seen in the emergence of the expansion of the various programmes we offer/host for and with the grandmothers.
We will be celebrating our 10 year anniversary on the 20 and 21 October 2011 at the GAPA centre in Khayelitsha.
I addition to extending and invitation to you to attend on the 21 October we would also like to request that if you have any access to items we can place in the goodie bags for the grandmothers that you kindly forward these to me or directly to the GAPA centre. We want to take this opportunity to really spoil the grandmothers and acknowledge the incredible work they do within their families and communities.
Some guidelines: We need about 500 bags filled.
So far we have 300 lovely messages written for the grandmothers by a church and students in the USA. We need another 200.
Grandmothers will immensely appreciate anything that has practical value (plus a little pampering):
toiletries such as tooth brushes, face clothes, soap.
Small food items
Packets of vegetable seeds
Wool, crochet needles
Any creative ideas you might have
If you’re interested or know of corporate sponsors please let me know
Also if you are interested in attending the celebration on the 21 October rsvp to me or email@example.com
Joining the ranks of history, the Grandmothers Against Poverty and AIDS (G.A.P.A.) have made their most recent debut in the gallery of the District Six Museum. Honored as a focus for women’s month, seventeen grandmothers volunteered to be part of an exhibition by photographer Eric Miller aimed at sharing their lives through visual representation.
Serving as local models for development change, G.A.P.A. works to create social networks and support systems for elder women carrying the burden of family care and emotional hardships wrought by HIV/AIDS. The exhibit centered on individual photographs of each grandmother accompanied by a sister photo displaying the families that they support. Each grandmother then chose a portion of her life narrative to display below her photograph, serving as a small insight into her daily struggles, hopes and the humanity of women brought on by HIV/AIDS.
The exhibit was well received by supporters, family, friends and grannies galore. The spirit in the room was joyful as grandmothers shared their photos and talked with guests about their roles within their family structure within G.A.P.A. Giving the keynote address was Sindiwe Magona, who spoke on the need for social responsibility and action as the key component to development change. She called upon the audience to make a difference and strengthen South Africa while honoring the Grandmothers’ drive, determination and efforts to combat HIV/AIDS through education and awareness.
The photography exhibit was launched on July 18th at the homecoming centre of the District Six Museum and will run until August 30th.
“Supergrannies” Our Grandmothers on Film
It’s a sunny Tuesday in July and GAPA is meeting in the Lookout Hill Center in Khayelitsha. The celebration is in honor of the first presentation of a beautiful photo exhibit: “Supergrannies.”
There are about 100 people gathered together… Grandmothers, the GAPA staff, local friends and family, student volunteers from the United States… all brought together, celebrating the lives, struggles and strengths of the Grandmothers in this community and around the world.
Photojournalist Eric Miller, with much help from friends like (but not limited to…) Professor’s Jennifer Fish (Old Dominion University) and Bette Dickerson (American University), and MA student Savannah Eck (Old Dominion University) from abroad, has given expression to the hardships these Grandmothers have faced in their lives. Poverty, illness and disease, death and separation from loved ones… the steps that these ‘Grannies’ have taken in the walks of their lives have been defined by these struggles. But here at GAPA, the Grandmothers have taken the initiative to turn their lives’ circumstances into means for activism and community building. Thelma Nkone is one of the 17 Grandmothers featured in the exhibit: “I think that when they hear the stories they will be glad, because the stories encourage other people, I would like some Grannies outside to join GAPA. Most of the people are sick people, they must know about HIV- its not a stigma anymore. Grannies are looking after the young ones, sons, grandchildren that are sick. They need to know how to treat them.. Most of the people will come [to join GAPA support groups] when they see how GAPA does for us.”
The ‘Supergrannies’ Photo Exhibit, which is going to be on display in Cape Town’s wonderful District 6 Museum, is the culmination of the story sharing graciously given by the Grannies, the listening and compassion offered by the community, and the creative angle contributed by Eric Miller.