Almost a year ago, an invitation came to Khulumani from a group of women based in Randwick, Sydney, Australia, The Australian Gogos and Mamas had seen a DVD called the Great Granny Revolution that told the story of a connection that had been built between grannies in Canada and grannies in Alexandra township, Johannesburg. They asked whether they could begin to build a relationship with other grannies. Khulumani's East Rand member group welcomed the opportunity.
The East Rand Gogos Forum started with an initial group of five Gogos who wrote done their personal stories to share with the Australian Gogos and Mamas. Soon the initial group of 5 grew to a movement of more than 50 Gogos meeting every month.
The group decided that the objectives of their meetings would be to build trust and support for each other in the challenges they faced as older women bringing up extended families of grandchildren; to tell their stories to each other and to start writing them down; to learn new skills from each other and to share indigenous knowledge; to look after each other and to offer each other massage; to promote the values of their cultures and their contribution to their identities; and to develop sustainable projects.
The group decided that each member would contribute R5.00 per month into a kitty to be used as a start-up fund for their projects. A number of projects have been initiated including a project to clean the environment through collecting and recycling bottles and tins; the making of firebricks from discarded paper; the sharing of recipes and ideas about healthy nutrition; baking and producing dried fruits; the production of beads, shoes, sewing and knitting; exploring Art and Memory processes for healing; singing and dancing; and taking pictures of their work.
The large group has divided into project groups of ten members each and each group has a leader, a trainer, a secretary and a treasurer. Each group is planning to open its own account to develop accountability as they move towards the sustainability of their projects.
The letters sent by the Australian Gogos and Mamas were read out to the whole group and brought tears of joy, hope, healing, encouragement and strength because the letters received were so supportive.
The funds that were sent to the Gogos contributed a start-up amount into each project group and also enabled the founding Gogos to buy uniforms for children attending school, groceries for their families and medicine for ill family members.
The group meets in the meeting rooms that Khulumani members and friends have built using discarded building rubble from building sites where they have collected discarded bricks and other rejected building materials. The attached photo shows a Gogo group meeting in their new meeting room at Nomarussia's home.