Gogos to celebrate 10th birthday in style!
With World AIDS Day just around the corner, the Hillcrest AIDS Centre’s Gogo (Granny) Support Group Programme is celebrating its 10th year of supporting and empowering grandmothers in KwaZulu-Natal impacted by the challenges of poverty, inequality and health conditions such as HIV/AIDS, TB and age-related illnesses. The Programme’s 10th Anniversary celebration will take place on Friday 25 November, in the Valley of 1000 Hills, KZN, at the Hillcrest AIDS Centre’s (HACT’s) annual Gogo of the Year event which recognises the outstanding contribution the Gogos make to their communities in raising awareness about health and empowerment. The event will feature traditional dancing, song and poetry, motivational speeches and stories, and the Gogos’ dressmaking skills will be modelled in a colourful fashion show.
HACT’s Gogo Support Group initiatives work towards keeping the Gogos busy, stimulated, encouraged and supported, enabling them to generate an income and learn new strategies of caring for their grandchildren in a region where HIV infection rates are estimated to be 40-60% of the population and poverty is rife. Thousands of Gogos on very low incomes in the Valley of 1000 Hills struggle to care for their grandchildren, many of whom are orphaned. These Gogos have to cover the cost of feeding and educating these children. Multiple sustainable livelihoods are therefore essential if they and their families are to survive and thrive.
The nominees for Gogo of the Year will be interviewed by a panel of judges and the winners chosen according to awareness of HIV/AIDS and other health conditions, their contribution to improving lives in the community, achievements in income generation and skills development, and best hand-made traditional costumes, to name but a few. Our Gogo of the Year event is our most important event of the year. This is the fifth Gogo of the Year event and it will be bigger than ever.
“It has been such a joy to work with the Gogos over the past ten years and to see them grow in self-esteem and courage,” said the Programme founder and Manager, Mrs Cwengi Myeni. “Despite their age, they have educated themselves, learnt business skills, participated in parenting and sewing courses, planted vegetable gardens, formed savings clubs, and supported each other through grief and suffering. For some this has meant going from zero to hero – from being illiterate to gaining matric; from experiencing a paralysing stroke to running a relay at the Gogolympics, from being estranged from a loved one to holding them and being cared for once again. We have shed tears and laughed together in joy – and that is what we will be doing on Friday the 25th when we celebrate their achievements this year, 2016.”
This year a number of prizes are up for grabs including a new category – the Soccer Award. The award recognises the achievement of one particular group for their initiative in bringing Gogos together from different communities to play and compete in soccer matches. In addition, one Gogo Support Group and four Gogo Support Group vegetable gardens will be awarded prizes for their efforts to increase food security and nutrition in a year which has seen devastating drought and food price increases.
The Gogo Support Group Programme is best known for its promotion of health and upliftment of the elderly and their families through the annual Gogolympics sports event which sees hundreds of Gogos competing in sports such as soccer, relay and netball – sports they practice in their groups throughout the year. The Programme also made the headlines earlier this year when it organised a march of nearly two thousand Gogos in conjunction with the Stephen Lewis Foundation calling for the human rights of Grandmothers to be heard ahead of the 2016 AIDS Conference in Durban.
For more information about the event or the Gogo Support Group Programme please contact: Cwengi Myeni (Granny Support Groups Manager), T: 031 765 5866/0824450239, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Bekky Stredwick, +27 (0)834369701 (cell)
When: Friday 25th November 2016
Where: Bambanani Hall, Ezitholeni, KwaNyuswa – please contact us for directions
Time: From 10am-3pm
For stories and pictures of the Gogos and their Support Groups see: http://www.hillaids.org.za/news/ugogothe-strength-struggle-and-endurance-gogos-grandmothers-valley-1000-hills
For more information about the Gogo Support Group Programme see: http://www.hillaids.org.za/projects/granny-gogo-support-groups-hillcrest-aids-centre-trust-hact-durban