About 120 grannies marched from the Balmoral Hotel to Addington Hospital in Durban’s city centre on Thursday under the banner of Grandmothers Movement in South Africa. Photo: Tsoanelo Sefoloko
By Tsoanelo Sefoloko
About 120 grandmothers marched from the Balmoral Hotel to Addington Hospital in the Durban city centre on Thursday to raise awareness around the challenges faced by elderly people, especially around access to health.
The group marched under the banner of Grandmothers Movement in South Africa (GMISA) following a three-day conference that brought together grandmothers from across the country.
They handed a memorandum, under the slogan “Nothing About Gogo Without Gogo!”, to Nthatiseng Malakoane from the office of the eThekwini mayor.
The memo calls for more representation of the elderly in government structures, among other grievances.
Malakoane promised to raise the grandmothers’ concerns with the MEC for social development on Saturday.
During the conference, the women discussed topics related to being leaders in their communities, as well as being key players in the fight against the HIV epidemic.
“We learned to be mothers to orphaned children in a time of crisis,” reads the memo.
Njavwa Mukwavi, program director from the Stephen Lewis Foundation, said they have been funding the movement since 2016. She explained that the foundation works with grandmothers and local community organisations.
Mukwavi said it’s important to advocate for the protection of grandmothers’ rights because in many cases they are often the ones in poor households who secure the wellbeing of their families, especially young children.
Bongiswa Meko, project manager at the Jongilanga Centre in Humansdorp in the Eastern Cape, said land rights and adequate housing was another challenge they have been helping elderly residents with.
Daisy Mapheele, chairperson of the Grandmothers Movement in Cape Town, said, “Even though I have never been attacked, we live in dangerous areas so we know anything is possible. I know of many people who have dealt with gender based violence in my area.”
Candice Davison, CEO of the Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust, said they work with about 70 support groups in Durban, where the grandmothers are encouraged to talk about their challenges, particularly health education around HIV/AIDS.
“We want to eradicate the stigma against HIV and AIDS because grandmothers are often the ones who go to the health facilities to collect the chronic medication for their grandchildren and sometimes face challenges when taking care of the family members who are critically ill,” she said.
Davison said they also host beading and workshops as a way to give the women skills to make extra income because the R2,090 pension is not enough to support their families.