Each month GAPA runs a three-day workshop for 30 new grandmothers who are introduced to the project by grandmothers who have been through the workshops.
The workshops concentrate on practical topics: nursing skills and HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, parenting skills, vegetable gardening, human rights and abuse, bereavement, business skills, drawing up wills and how to access government grants. GAPA trained grandmothers facilitate all workshops.
Once a month an open workshop for all grandmothers is held where topical subjects are discussed. These are facilitated by local NPO’s and cover subjects such as rape, crime, elder abuse, health issues like cancer or diabetes, antiretroviral treatment for AIDS patients and parliamentary affairs.
In 2005 GAPA grandmothers made a submission to Parliament on the proposed Older Persons Bill.
Emotionally vulnerable grandmothers are recruited by grandmothers who are known as area representatives to join the support groups that they run in their homes once a week. In these groups the grandmothers meet others who have family members who are infected with HIV or who have died from AIDS complications. Through the medium of a handwork activity such as patchwork, grandmothers are made to feel comfortable and supported. The group leader counsels them and teaches them about HIV/AIDS. Through the peer support grandmothers gradually come to terms with their losses and start to take charge of their lives. These groups consist of a maximum of ten grandmothers. A small donation is made by GAPA to the leader of the group for each meeting that she has in her home.
Handicraft items made in the groups are often sold within the township. Grandmothers are encouraged to create their own markets and to make items that are wanted by their communities.
GAPA has a store in the grounds of its multipurpose centre. Here new beadwork, bags, cushions and other articles, made by grandmothers are displayed and sold.
The income generation project at the GAPA centre is run by Ms Florence Hlangadala. Ms Hlangadala was trained by Sibanye. She manages the shop and supervises the manufacture of goods that have been ordered by customers. GAPA grandmothers have knitted scarves, crocheted motifs, made toys and bags in large numbers for companies.
It came to the management team’s notice that there seemed to be a large number of small children present in the groups who were a distraction to the grandmothers. Grandmothers in charge of these children were unable to afford to send them to preschool or creche. An application to Victim Empowerment department of Social Services resulted in a donation of R50 000. This donation and some generous private sponsors enabled us to send 53 children of preschool age to their nearest preschool in 2004. This aspect of GAPA’s intervention strategy has proved to be very popular and gives grandmothers a real boost to know that they can send their young grandchildren to a safe and stimulating environment while they have some time to themselves.
In 2006 145 children attended preschool through bursaries given by GAPA. The Stephen Lewis Foundation sponsored 89of these while private donors, Township Trust and Christ Church, Constantia, sponsored the others.
In 2007 146 children received bursaries.
The cost to send a child to preschool ranges from R100 to R150 per month. Bursaries are awarded based on need and availability of funds. Area representatives are responsible for checking that the child is attending preschool.
In January 2007 GAPA started its Aftercare Service for 50 vulnerable children who attend the local primary school. The headmaster and teachers identified children who went home after school to empty homes, lived in shacks or were sickly. Two grandmothers co ordinate the enrichment programme for the children. They get help from other grandmothers that are able to teach skills such as knitting and beadwork. Home work is supervised, the children are fed and a choir has been formed. The grandmothers teach English literacy, tell traditional stories and teach traditional songs. A community meeting, held at the weekend for the parents or carers of the children, resulted in the formation of a committee being formed to assist in the management of the Aftercare Service.
The children chosen to attend the aftercare enjoyed it so much that the word quickly spread and very strict criteria had to be used to limit the number of children who could participate in the activities.
A generous donation by I&J facilitated the erection of a prefabricated classroom which was officially opened in March 2008. The classroom provides a home for the library books, a place to do homework and to listen to stories without distraction. The classroom has two toilets and a shower.
Much loved and much needed playground equipment was provided by Krombroom Rotary Club while foreign donors from Holland donated equipment to enhance the activities inside the classroom.
Books and educational toys have been donated by School Aid (www.school-aid.org) based in England.