Each month GAPA runs an Indaba, whereby newcomers come to know about the happenings of GAPA and members have a platform to speak about current affairs that are affecting their communities. These workshops are facilitated by trained grandmothers who have been through the workshops on previous occasions or by relevant guests.
A weekly slot has been secured in 2014 on a local radio station, namely Radio Zibonele, whereby GAPA workshops take to the air, and thus reach a far larger number of community members.
The workshops are presented in isiXhosa and concentrate on practical topics such as:Human Rights, HIV/AIDS, Cancer Awareness (Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon Campaign), Elderly Abuse, Will Writing, Parenting Skills, Vegetable Gardening, Healthy Ageing, Bereavement and Business Skills.
GAPA aims to empower grandmothers to take charge of their lives and circumstances by means of education and raising relevant issues in these workshops. 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 often to twenty grandmothers. Once grandmothers are emotionally stable they are invited to form cooperative groups more focused on income generation.
INCOME GENERATION ACTIVITIES
GAPA has a store on the grounds of its multipurpose centre. Here beadwork, crochet and knitted items, bags, cushions and other articles made by the 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 a shop for all of Khayelitsha crafters. She manages the GAPA shop and supervises the manufacturing of goods that have been ordered by customers. GAPA grandmothers have knitted scarves, crocheted items, made toys and bags in large numbers for companies.
A vegetable garden at the GAPA centre and nearby school is manned by male members and some females who prefer gardening to handicrafts. The harvest is sold back to the grandmothers at a minimal price. These items are sold at the GAPA centre.
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 coordinated the enrichment programme for the children. 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.
There are currently 212 children registered at GAPA Aftercare and there are 5 grandmothers who act as aftercare teachers.
Today, the GAPA aftercares aims to provide:
- a safe space for vulnerable children to come to afterschool in the afternoon;
- a stimulating environment and effective occupation-based programs that will contribute to enhancing child learning and development; and
- a context whereby intergenerational play is both celebrated and manifested, so to enhance meaningful occupational engagement.
During the afternoons at the aftercare, the children are fed, homework is supervised and the children are kept in a safe, loving environment where they are free to play and learn at will. The grandmothers teach English literacy, tell traditional stories and teach traditional songs. The grandparents also teach the children how to do various crafts such as sewing, crocheting as well as how to tend to community vegetable gardens and engage in these activities with them.
African Impact as well as their sister organisation, the Happy Africa Foundation have also partnered with GAPA and together with the grannies, the international volunteers run activity programs with the children four days a week. The Each One Teach One Program is a space where the content of the programs can be co-constructed by the grandmothers and the volunteers, with various forms of knowledge informing the types and the ways that the activities are done. Through the Enrichment program, sponsored by the Happy Africa Foundation. children have the opportunities to experience and explore the wonders within the Cape, be it the Two-Oceans Aquarium, the famous Greenpoint Stadium or the majestic Table Mountain, which is in fact one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
Final year occupational therapy students from the University of Cape Town, (UCT) have their practice learning/ internship at GAPA, supervised by the GAPA occupational therapist and a UCT supervisor. Here the focus is on community development practice as well as child learning and development. Various collaborative projects as well as screening and assessments, intervention and program development take place within the aftercare as a result of this partnership.
A generous donation by I&J facilitated the construction 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 needed playground equipment, including a jungle gym was provided by Kromboom 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. A second classroom, which is a wooden bungalow was donated by Global Fund for Children.
Aftercare school children and other needy ones receive school assistance in the form of uniforms, food from the pantry, electricity, transport, money and tuition fees.