The Grandmother Movement - Africa

Start an activist grandmother group---or join, support or network with an existing group! If you know of additional groups that should be listed, please contact us via email! (Projects highlighted in yellow are featured in the book Grandmother Power.)


Grandmothers Helping Grandmothers. This organization connects grandmothers in countries worldwide to support and encourage each other, especially those raising grandchildren orphaned by AIDS. It was founded by the Ariel Foundation International and by diplomats from both Botswana and the United States.  


Make Mama Visible, is a public walking “race” for rural grandmothers age 75+ that aims to make them feel honored as athletes and leaders, confident, and not deserted (even though most live alone since their families have migrated to cities). Sponsors purchase shorts and t-shirts for competitors, first aid kits, and prizes. The first race took place in August 2012 in Gafanji; the next one will be in March 2013 in Alou. Contact Ziwoh at or  


Agohelma is Abebech Gobena children’s care and development organization. Abebech Gobena has been called “The Mother Teresa of Africa.” She took so many orphans into her home during the Ethiopian famine of the 1980’s that her husband divorced her. This heroic 75-year-old woman runs orphanages, schools and health centers that have cared for 12,000 Christian and Muslim children.


Yao Home Based Care Group. Seventeen grandmothers in Homa Bay on Lake Victoria are working to help children orphaned by AIDS by making home visits, providing care and psychosocial support. They have started a poultry project to provide eggs and hope to build a vegetable green house but need financing. Email Philister Achola, Coordinator:


Help Lesotho, founded by Canadian professor Peg Herbert in 2005, works with 9,500 Lesotho grandmothers who are raising vulnerable children and children orphaned by AIDS. You may Sponsor A Grandmother to become part of a support group--or donate to the Grandmother Relief Fund which provides blankets, mattresses, and emergency food. Find out more.


Gogoz Groups, sponsored by the NGO, Fochta, share skills leading to income generation, and support each other in their struggles to care for AIDS orphans. Almost 700 grandparents belong. So far, 98 grandmothers have received a goat as part of the revolving goat scheme (grandmothers care for the nanny and return it to a central pool after kidding. The kid is the grandmother’s to keep). The women also make pots, sew dresses, weave, knit, and keep bees. Fochta is one of the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s Grandmother Campaign grantees.


The Grandmother Project collaborates with World Vision and village grandmothers in villages near Velingara, effectively reducing child marriage and teen pregnancy while virtually eliminating female genital mutilation. It has also reinstated lost traditional values and restored respect for elders. The Grandmother Project, based in Rome, works with NGOs and grandmothers to enhance health throughout the developing world.


Alexandra Gogo Grannies. Gogo means “granny” in Zulu, and this group, started by a psychiatric nurse in Alexandra Township near Johannesburg, provides physical and mental healthcare to grandmothers who are caring for AIDS orphans. It is a grantee of the Stephen Lewis Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign.

Grandmothers Against Poverty and Aids. Based in Khayelitsha, a township outside of Cape Town, GAPA is a self-help project run by grandmothers who are caring for AIDS orphans and family members with AIDS. New grandmother group members attend a three-day workshop, then participate in on-going support groups and income generation projects. GAPA is a grantee of the Stephen Lewis Foundation Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign.

Natal Grannies. This group of 16 grandmothers in Kwa-Zulu Natal near Durban, are caring for AIDS orphans. They are grantees of the Stephen Lewis Foundation Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign.

Gogo Support Project run by the Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust near Durban offers literacy training, bereavement counseling, sewing and crafts training, plus sports (including the Gogo Olympics) to 36 granny groups that include 2,000 grandmothers raising children orphaned by AIDS. Hillcrest is a grantee/partner of the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign. Learn more.

Vakhegula Vakhegula. The name means “Grannies Grannies” in the Tsonga language, and their soccer team includes 40 players aged 49-84. Organized in 2005 by Beka Ntsanwisi, they play at a deliberate, purposeful pace with plenty of passion. What started as an exercise program now includes international competitions. They are based in Limpopo Province. Watch them play


Amarasti is a project founded in 2009 by Susan Dowding. Eighty rural grannies (most from the Ezulwini area, all raising AIDS orphans) make purses and cushion covers for sale. You can buy them in the Candle Factory shop near Malkerns; they’re also exported to South Africa. The women are trained in beading and embroidery, and the project provides them with eyeglasses. (Tel 00268-4161671 or 00268-6371136 or email Find them on Facebook

Swaziland for Positive Living (SWAPOL) is an NGO that serves the needs of rural grandmothers and their families who are infected---and affected--by HIV/AIDS throughout Swaziland. Agricultural projects (seedling nurseries, community farms, gardens) encourage nutrition and income generation. Grief counseling, care for the terminally ill, and orphan care are also addressed by SWAPOL programs.


Grandmothers and Orphans Support Project. The Orphans Foundation Fund runs this microfinance program for grandmothers caring for AIDS orphans, and has, since 2007. Their goal is to help the grandmothers become financially self-supporting. The Orphan Foundation, founded in 2002, is headquartered in Arusha, Tanzania but has 501c3 status in the United States.

The Granny Project. Operated by Kwa Wazee in Switzerland, this program launched in 2003 and now makes monthly pension payments to 900 grandmothers in five communities in the Kagera Region, all of whom have been severely affected by HIV/AIDS. Payments reduce economic vulnerability of poor households and combats child malnutrition. The children collaborate with heavy chores (carrying water and firewood) that elderly caregivers can’t handle.


Grandparents Action Support. Started in 2003, this program currently empowers 500 grandparents caring for AIDS orphans under age 8. They work together in groups of 5 or 6 to look after vulnerable children. GAS is run by Action for Children, a Christian NGO headquartered in Kampala that works in nine districts impacted by HIV/AIDS or armed conflict.

*Nyaka AIDS Orphans Project. The Nyaka AIDS Orphans Project works with 7,000 grandmothers in the districts of Kanungo and Rukingiri who are raising some of the 2.2 million AIDS orphans in Uganda. In 2013, their Project will expand into three new districts. Results are concrete: microfinance funding, pit latrines, kitchens. The Foundation works in partnership with the Stephen Lewis Foundation's Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign.


Phoebe Education Fund for AIDS Orphans. Three AIDS orphans launched this program in 2003. In 2007, PEFO began to help grandmothers caring for AIDS orphans in Budondo, Butiki and Butagaya Uganda by providing microcredit, giving the grandmothers a pregnant pig, seeds, training in sustainable agriculture, and houses. The grandmothers’ support groups meet weekly. In 2010, the grandmothers began to design and build fuel-efficient stoves and fireless cookers to use and sell.


Gwai Grandmothers Group. This group supports 110 children who have been orphaned by AIDS in the Province of Matabeleland South. They have a tiny budget, no paid staff, and the Firelight Foundation (U.S.) is their only funder. They taught each other knitting and sewing so they could clothe their children--and how to make soap and candles to sell so they could feed them.


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