We recently visited Grandmothers Against Poverty & Aids (GAPA) in Khayelitsha and spoke with GAPA’s Project Manager, Donavon Adonis, who explained a bit about the organisation.
The organisation was founded in 2001 by Kathlene Broderick in a period where AIDS was rife in the community and a lot of misinformation was being spread about this deadly epidemic throughout the country. GAPA was fortunate to have the land for their premises donated by the municipality, and through a fantastic fundraising effort, were able to raise enough money to erect the permanent building structure as a home for the organisation.
At that time, many children in the community were left orphaned due to the spread of AIDS, and the grandparents of these orphans had assumed the responsibility of primary care givers. GAPA was initially formed to educate the community about HIV & AIDS, and regularly held workshops for the community’s grandparents. These workshops were later expanded to include life skills, human rights, health education and skills development in an effort to uplift the elders from this community.
After leaving their orphaned grandchildren at school each morning, the grandparents would meet at GAPA for their workshop and to have a meal that would be provided daily. The elders looked forward to meeting with each other at GAPA and formed a strong support group. Such was this incredible bond that many chose to fetch their grandchildren from school and return to GAPA on the same day to offer further support to each other. This lead to GAPA introducing an after-care facility for the orphaned children, who spent time together just as their grandparents did, and were assured of a safe environment and a nutritious meal while there. Due to extreme poverty levels in the community, these AIDS affected families took great comfort that they could visit GAPA as their safe space and would always be offered a meal.
GAPA currently has 320 members that attend regularly and 120 children attending their aftercare programme. The organisation employs 15 staff members that include a registered occupational therapist, a project manager, a craft skills specialist and a team of aftercare teachers, amongst others. The occupational therapist plays an important role in identifying the needs of GAPA’s members, administering adequate treatment, conducting medical checks and referring members to hospital, if necessary. The members are taught income generating skills and are involved in daily activities that include gardening, sewing & knitting, and reading.
Funding the organisation is one of the biggest challenges as GAPA relies solely on fundraising. FoodForward SA’s monthly food donations are therefore most welcome as this eases the financial burden of food purchases for GAPA. Donavon says, “The food provided by FoodForward SA is filled with a variety of nutritious and healthy products, and some treats.” GAPA previously offered very basic meals eg. a sandwich, to their members with one cooked meal served per week. “FoodForward SA’s impact enables our members to enjoy a variety of hot nutritious meals throughout the week. The money saved is used to fund much needed activities such as Indabas, where the elderly members have the opportunity to get medical checks done for free, and fund extracurricular activities.” says Donavon.
Donavon’s message to FoodForward SA: “On behalf of GAPA, I would like to express our heartfelt gratitude for the magnificent contribution that FoodForward SA makes to us each month. This enables us to service the needy members of our community and provide a platform for them to uplift themselves. A special mention also goes out to all the staff that I interact with at FoodForward SA. I am really impressed with how efficient, caring and courteous they are whenever I arrive for our monthly grocery collection. I always return with an amazing feeling about receiving the food hamper and I want to say a massive THANK YOU to everybody at FoodForward SA. “