"One day an army of grey-haired old women may quietly take over the world." - Gloria Steinem.
We went to a benefit screening of The Great Granny Revolution last night. I can't say enough wonderful things about this documentary. It follows the start of the Wakefield Grannies and how they partnered up with a group of Gogos (grannies) who are raising their AIDS orphaned grandchildren in the South African township of Alexandria for moral support (and some financial support) and how the concept has spread through 15 affluent countries now and there are Granny to Granny programs all over the world now. Besides making me homesick (I know all the Wakefield Grannies and a lot of the other people in the film) it just impressed me to no end how these Gogos are parenting and how they are now leading policy changes all over Africa for the benefit of these children.
These women, who raised their families under the oppression of apartheid, are taking on parenting another generation in their 60's and 70's and 80's. Four of them came to Canada two years ago for an international AIDS conference hosted by the Stephen Lewis Foundation (you can give your air miles points to the foundation to support exchanges like this btw) and gave a workshop on how they needed to change their parenting techniques to stay with the times.
One of the Gogos had me in tears when she talked about feeling her silence, her shame about her daughter's HIV infection, killed her. That if she'd been vocal, God would not have taken her daughter from her. That Gogo? She has gone back to school and has become a social worker and is now working in the township on AIDS education. The best thing about the Granny to Granny programs is not the money, its the love and support that these remarkable women get from far away. The psychiatric nurse who runs the Gogo support group that the Wakefield Grannies partnered up with spoke in Wakefield about how sad it was that they had to go all that way to find such unconditional love and support. It isn't in their community where fear and superstitions run rampant, it isn't coming from their leaders and the policies they direct.
Angelique Kidjo spoke with passion about how the most important thing that people can do in the face of such a devastating pandemic is see that these are HUMAN BEINGS not numbers. If you focus on the numbers you feel powerless. If you focus on the people - even if your focus is sharing news about your families with just *one* other person - the joys, the sorrows, the celebration of new babies, the grief of losing one - you are making a difference.
It was an incredible film, about incredible women, ordinary women. So if you get a chance to go to a screening, do. The DVD is sold in support of the Grannies and is 30.00. You can purchase it from the Production Comany here - http://www.rooneyproductions.com/granny/granny.htm