Photography Exhibit Highlights Grannies in Cape Town

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.

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Amatsha Ntliziyo exhibition

Amatsha Ntliziyo grandmother exhibition continues from 22 July to 30 August at District Six Museum (Home Coming centre) corner Caledon and Buitenkant Street. Mon 9h00 – 13h30 and Tues 9h00-16h00

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‘thenevergiveups’ photo launch Khayelitsha


Amatsha Intlizizo: Heros and Activists Never Give Up, They Perservere.

“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.

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Amatsha Ntliziyo -“the never-give-ups’

GAPA: Grandmothers Against Poverty & Aids

Thousands of grandmothers across South Africa are having to cope with the consequences of the AIDS pandemic, at a time when they had hoped to retire and be cared for by their families.

These grannies are taking on greater responsibility than they could ever have imagined as they care for their own ill and dying children, and become parents to their orphaned grandchildren.

Supergrannies is a photo exhibition about a group of grandmothers who are showing extraordinary grit, care for others and even humour, despite the heavy burdens they carry. The grannies in the exhibition are among the many who have formed a support and activist group called Grandmothers Against Poverty and AIDS. This organization, they say, “is keeping us alive”.

South African photojournalist Eric Miller has captured the struggle and spirit of 17 grandmothers in intimate portraits of them, and their families. The photographs will be combined with excerpts from the grandmothers’ life stories, documented by award-winning South African journalist Jo-Anne Smetherham.

The exhibit will form the foundation of a book about the grannies’ lives.

The ‘Supergrannies’

The exhibition acknowledges the challenges the grannies face but also celebrates their enormous power and strength in their communities, as both carers and activists.

GAPA has taught thousands of grannies skills from parenting to first-aid, vegetable gardening and income-generation through handcrafts. In helping to keep each other going, these grandmothers are helping to keep many orphans fed and educated. “My sisters at GAPA counsel me, they comfort me. Without them, I would be dead by now,” says Mrs. Mdaka, a GAPA co-founder.

The grannies at GAPA say the organization has changed their lives. Visitors see that this is true. When the grannies get together to sing and dance, they raise the roof. They even get together at bus stops to hand out condoms to educate the passers-by about safe sex, singing and dancing as they do so.

Our Long Term Goals

Our ultimate goal is to raise global awareness and a sense of social responsibility, while generating ongoing support for GAPA. We intend to continue supporting the organization in its current activities and as well as with similar initiatives in other areas of South Africa and in other African countries. GAPA has already begun this work, helping grandmothers to set up similar projects in other provinces of South Africa, as well as in Tanzania.

Authored by: Eric Miller

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New Website – May 2010

Due to a problem with our previous web hosting company, our website was unfortunately down for the last few weeks.

We decided to create a new website from scratch, using the popular open source platform, WordPress.

Althea’s husband Henk kindly helped with creating the new website within days! Henk’s company, Skyrove, will be providing the web hosting for GAPA in the future (As Vivienne always says: the partners of GAPA employees ALSO work for GAPA!)

Thank you for your patience and our apologies again for the downtime.

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Wonderful visit from Prof Jennifer Fish and Prof Bette Dickerson

Professor Jennifer Fish and Bette Dickerson returned to GAPA last week amidst a very emotional meeting in which we were wishing Vivienne happy birthday and taking stock of all our achievements for the year.
Their arrival was an added celebration. The grandmothers saw the rewards of their work with Prof Fish’s student in 2007 who raised funds to purchase us a much needed and welcomed netbook.
We are so grateful to have partners who promote awareness of the grandmother’s stories and uphold their dignity on every front.
Below is an email from Jennifer that I thought should be shared. It highlights some of the links to GAPA activities.

“Dear Sojourners and Friends,

We have shared an incredible opportunity to bring GAPA to South Africa’s international conference on reconciliation []. The grandmothers were featured in a roundtable discussion and we collectively presented our own initial research on the dual trauma women face in living with memories of apartheid and burden of HIV/AIDS. Bette is here with me, which has been another profound journey that solidifies our work on this project, as well as our kindred connections.
While at the conference, I showed pieces of the documentary Rachel is producing to the GAPA speakers and the organization’s Director, Vivienne Budaza, and filmed their initial responses. I hope you will enjoy this beautiful piece.
Felicia Mfamana, one of the grandmothers in our presentation, was also recently featured for World AIDS Day on Aljazeera News []
Sending my best from Cape Town!
Jennifer “

Grandmothers Against Poverty and AIDS
Tel/fax: 021 364 3138

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Secure the Future Feature

Read an article written by BMS

Grandmothers Against Poverty and AIDS
Tel/fax: 021 364 3138

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Visit to Tanzania by GAPA granny and staff.

In November three people from GAPA visited their sister organisation in Kibaha, outside Dar es Salaam. Twelve months ago the GAPA model of support was explained to grandmothers and representatives from KICODET, an NGO in Tanzania. After one week of workshops and visits to villages the GAPA reps participated in the formation of nine grandmother groups. On our return visit in 2009 we discovered that 24 groups had been formed. The groups are all active in AIDS education, psychosocial support and income generating projects. The self esteem, general well being and mood of the grandmothers has done a complete turnabout. The grandmothers have taken up their rightful place once again as leaders of their communities.

The Tanzanian team is hard pressed financially to spread the model to the many many grandmothers that have heard of the “new ways and ideas” and that want to form their own groups and have access to education about coping with HIV/AIDS.
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