Children help clean up after their homework session. (Contributed)

Children help clean up after their homework session. (Contributed)

Vernon’s Grannies à Gogo provides gifting opportunity to African grandmothers

Local organization’s help made possible through donations

In Sabie, South Africa a group of elderly Gogos (Zulu for “grandmothers”) gathers each morning. Today is the weekly visit of the physiotherapist and occupational therapist who lead them in rousing dancing exercise. Selena and Aniki peel and chop a mound of vegetables, put them in plastic bags and into the small deep freeze. Sarah Lelukini, a diabetic, is having her blood sugar and blood pressure monitored, as are forty other Gogos. In a small kitchen it is Thabisile’s turn to make sandwiches for the Gogos’ lunch.

What do all these activities have in common? All were made possible through generous donations to Grannies à Gogo: the Vernon – South Africa Connection who support these bereaved African grandmothers in Sabie, South Africa, many of whom are caring for their AIDS-orphaned grandchildren. The funds have been used for garden tools and seedlings to grow vegetables, the deep freeze to store excess produce, the necessary medical supplies to monitor diabetes and hypertension, groceries to supply lunches, and a monthly supplementary food parcel for each to take home.

When the Gogos head home after lunch, it isn’t long until 50-75 children show up for the after-school homework program run by volunteer administrator (and retired teacher) Vicky Bryant. They are fed soup and sandwiches before and after the homework session. Often children get little encouragement from their parents who themselves were often denied education during apartheid. Vicky is seeing wonderful progress in their school achievement as a result of this program.

This Christmas we encourage you to consider giving a donation to Grannies à Gogo to support the vulnerable Gogos and their grandchildren. All donations are wired directly to the volunteer administrators. You can send a cheque to Grannies à Gogo, Box 1652, Vernon, BC, V1T 8C3. Or go to granniesagogo.com/contact-us/ and donate through the PayPal button.

Grannies à Gogo receives regular reports and volunteer administrator, Myriam Bryant, wrote in a recent report, “We are planning to have a small Christmas party for the Gogos in the morning and the children in the afternoon.” It is so rewarding when the young people manage to improve their results or ask for extra lessons. But we had two heartbreaking situations recently. One of the Grade 11 girls was living with her Gogo who died suddenly last week, leaving the 17 year-old alone. We don’t know yet what will happen to her.” She adds, “And, secondly, two of the students lost their mother in a car accident.”

The Gogos participate in team games to promote group spirit and always end up in laughter. When Gogo Inah Mashego recently celebrated her 90th birthday, a real milestone for a Gogo, she was honoured with a cake and a party. Inah said it was the first time she had ever had a birthday cake. Funds are also used to transport the Gogos to hospital when needed; for craft supplies, eyeglasses, groceries, and sports equipment, to name a few.

The Vernon group counts itself fortunate that they receive these frequent activity reports, as well as financial statements. Chairperson for the Vernon group, Mary Stebbins, says, “There are many groups in North America who donate to the disadvantaged overseas and often have no knowledge of how the funds are used. For nearly thirteen years we have developed this relationship with our volunteer administrators. They let us know the details of what is happening in the Gogos’ lives, send photos of their activities, and send us their accountant’s financial statements.”

It’s a compassionate way of supporting the South African Gogos from Vernon, both financially and in friendship.

— Susan Fenner is the publicity representative for Grannies a Gogo.

READ MORE: VIDEO: The perils of indulging teenagers’ wish lists

READ MORE: Vernon organization aiming to help teens at Christmas

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Gogo Paulina and great-grandaughter Zara await sandwiches being served behind her. (Contributed)

Gogo Paulina and great-grandaughter Zara await sandwiches being served behind her. (Contributed)

A physiotherapist leads stretching and dancing exercise weekly. (Contributed)

A physiotherapist leads stretching and dancing exercise weekly. (Contributed)

Just Posted

Armstrong’s Jesse Crowe, shown at the home of golf, St. Andrew’s in Scotland, has been named the Royal York Golf Course’s director of golf operations. (Facebook photo)
Armstrong golf pro soars to home course position

Jesse Crowe becomes director of golf operations at Royal York Golf Course

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson)
30 new COVID-19 cases, five more deaths in Interior Health

This brings the total number of cases to 7,271 since testing began

Interior Health officially declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Creekside Landing in Vernon on Jan. 3, which was followed by the first death from the virus 10 days later. (Kaigo photo)
Despite additional death, COVID outbreak over at Vernon care home

Creekside Landing cleared of coronavirus, despite additional loss in last day

Ranchero Deep Creek firefighters respond to a blaze involving two adjacent structures at a property off of Deep Creek Road on Sunday, Feb. 21. The buildings were believed to have been used as part of a cannabis growing operation, and RCMP are investigating. (Sean Coubrough/CSRD photo)
Ranchero Deep Creek firefighters respond to a blaze involving two adjacent structures at a property off of Deep Creek Road on Sunday, Feb. 21. The buildings were believed to have been used as part of a cannabis growing operation, and RCMP are investigating. (Sean Coubrough/CSRD photo)
Shuswap firefighters responding to structure blaze find cannabis grow operation

RCMP investigating, attempting to track down owner of property

Two North Okanagan-Shuswap rural communities, including Lumby, will receive B.C. government grants to support new jobs and economic opportunities to help them recover from the impacts of COVID-19. (Black Press file photo)
North Okanagan-Shuswap communities collect government grants

Lumby and Blind Bay to benefit to help recover from economic impact of COVID-19

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

(Stock photo)
EDITORIAL: The freedom to read

Books have been challenged many times in the past

The dam at Thirsk Lake, west of Summerland, was expanded in 2007. A crack has now been discovered where the old and new portions of the dam meet. (Summerland Review file photo)
Crack at Thirsk Dam to be examined

Reservoir west of Summerland was expanded in 2007

(Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. residents can reserve provincial camp sites starting March 8

B.C. residents get priority access to camping reservations in province

The Penticton Speedway has been sold but the investment group who bought it is planning to create an enhanced racetrack and racing experience. (File photo)
Penticton Speedway sold and will remain a racetrack

Investment group that includes founder of Area 27 intends to buy the Speedway

Most Read