Be Inspired By These Remarkable Grandmothers As You Write Your Post

Here’s a great way to participate in the blogging campaign: share one of these 6 remarkable grandmother stories and images at your blog and let your readers be inspired by them!

It’s easy: Simply download the zip file for the story you have chosen, unzip it and you will find a text document containing the story, corresponding image, and copyright information. Simply create a post on your blog using the materials provided and then post and share!

Link up your post to the campaign headquarters here, and be sure to also invite your readers to join the campaign too, by adding their own post at this link: http://www.taramohr.com/join-grandmother-power-blogging-campaign/




At first, the Barefoot College in Rajasthan, India taught young men to be solar engineers, hoping they would bring light to their rural villages.

The plan didn’t work: the men went straight to the city to find jobs, not back to the villages that so desperately needed their expertise.

The College made a surprising course correction: they invited village grandmothers to learn how to bring light to their communities.

The grandmothers were illiterate and existed on less than fifty cents a day but they were mature and gutsy, and wouldn’t dream of moving away from their grandchildren.

Their teachers were other illiterate grandmothers who had already finished the course and who shared their knowledge generously.

After six months, the student grandmothers could build, install, repair and maintain solar lighting systems. They could assemble solar lanterns, solar water heaters and parabolic solar cookers.

The Indian grandmothers went home and brought light to a whopping 9,833 households in 16 Indian states.

Even more inspiring is what happened next. The UN began sending grandmothers from other developing countries to learn from the Indian grandmothers. Together, grandmother solar engineers have brought solar electricity to 45,000 households in 64 countries in the Middle East, Africa, South America and Asia.

With light, life is transformed. Midwives deliver babies at night. People charge cell phones and preserve food in refrigerators. Children do homework without getting black lung disease from kerosene lamps.

Grandmother solar engineers are VIPs in their communities. Bunker Roy, head of the Barefoot College, says, “I meet them as grandmothers. But they return to their villages as tigers.”

From Grandmother Power: A Global Phenomenon by Paola Gianturco, published by powerHouse Books.

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South Africa

South Africa has 1.9 million AIDS orphans. If they lived in a single city, it would be size of Houston. The AIDS pandemic has decimated their parents’ generation.

Grandmothers Against Poverty and AIDS in Khayelitsha, South Africa, is run by and for grandmothers. Eighty percent of GAPA grandmothers care for AIDS orphans, 30% care for another relative with AIDS, and 15% are HIV positive themselves. Despite the health problems, their motto proclaims, “Together We are Strong!”

The grandmothers planted a community garden so they can feed the children. They welcome the youngsters when school gets out and serve lunch. Some supervise the playground. Others help with homework. They have made it possible for their grandchildren to be safe after school in this violent township, to enjoy their friends and have fun.

GAPA grandmothers also help each other. They participate in weekly support groups and teach each other crafts. (One grandmother learned to make hats: “Hats were the end of poverty in my house. People call me Hats Mama!”)

A grandmother of five, laughs, “Whatever comes, we are ready. We’ve even got a lady who comes and exercises us. Fitness for grandmothers. You would be very much amazed to see us jumping in our tights. We dance like the little ones.”

GAPA sets an example for other countries. There are 24 grandmother groups near Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, which GAPA helped launch. GAPA founder Kathleen Brodrick is unequivocal: “Older people hold the future of Africa.”

From Grandmother Power: A Global Phenomenon by Paola Gianturco, published by powerHouse Books.
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During the military dictatorship in Argentina (1976-83) books were banned and burned; libraries were looted; intellectuals, authors and journalists were murdered; newspaper offices were bombed. Not surprisingly, people stopped reading.

To re-engage youngsters with books, The Mempo Giardinelli Foundation launched the Storytelling Grandmother program. Today, 2,000 grandmothers read to children in schools, bookstores and libraries. Unconditional affection plus good literature jet propel children’s love of reading.

The Storytelling Grandmothers are so effective that the Ministry of Education in Argentina has incorporated them into the national public school curriculum. Their program has been copied by Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela and Spain.

Today, grandmothers in those countries sustain the buoyant enthusiasm of Argentina’s Storytelling Grandmothers: “Reading is an act of love. Reading is a party!”

One Argentine grandmother pinches a bean between her fingers as she reads children a book titled El Garbanzo Peligroso, The Dangerous Garbanzo, which was banned during the dictatorship for “excessive use of imagination.” Later, remembering the terrible years, she asserts, “Reading is a right. The right to read must be protected.”

In 2012, the Storytelling Grandmother program received First Prize from the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun for promoting children’s literacy.

From Grandmother Power: A Global Phenomenon by Paola Gianturco, published by powerHouse Books.

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Canadian grandmothers are raising funds to benefit African grandmothers who are bringing up children orphaned by AIDS. The grandmothers themselves created the unique collaboration.

The Stephen Lewis Foundation invited 200 Canadian and 100 African grandmothers to Toronto in 2006. The African grandmothers told their stories.

While still grieving the deaths of their children, some African grandmothers adopted as many as 12 or 15 grandchildren, even though they themselves were too weak to carry water, too old to earn money, too poor to buy food, and too sad to provide comfort.

The Canadian and African grandmothers wept together, promised to stand in solidarity, and created The Grandmothers to Grandmothers campaign.

Over the last six years, 8,000 Canadian grandmothers formed 245 groups across Canada and raised $16.5 million—enough to send a continuous flow of small cash infusions to grandmother groups in 15 African countries.

African grandmother groups send grant requests for small amounts: enough to buy seeds for a community garden—or a swing set for an afterschool care program.

The Canadian grandmothers sell ice cream at the beach, make and sell crafts, hold fund raising dinner parties, cater weddings and stage Scrabble tournaments. One group even raced Harley Davidsons!

The Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign is not just a fundraising project. Canadian grandmothers, many retired, discover enduring meaning and purpose in this work. Joanne O’Shea, who leads the GrandMothers and GrandOthers in Ontario, observes, “What a gift the African grandmothers are to us. For us, every day in Thanksgiving.”

From Grandmother Power: A Global Phenomenon by Paola Gianturco, published by powerHouse Books.

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Grandmothers run the Child Abuse Hotline in Jalapa, Guatemala for Plan International. It’s grandmothers who have the time to listen, the compassion to offer comfort and the wisdom to make appropriate referrals to hospitals, police or social workers.

A local social worker says, “Children, parents, grandmothers and neighbors prefer to talk about child abuse with an understanding, warm, friendly, nice grandmother.”

On the other hand, grandmothers are tough. An 80-year-old great-grandmother says: “I was visiting a young family. I knew the father had killed people in the past. He became very aggressive. His daughter hid behind me for protection. I told him, ‘Stop! I will report you.’ He grabbed a machete so I said, ‘I will call the police to take you to jail.’ I handed him a flier and urged him, ‘Read this. You don’t have to act like this.’ I had been trained and was not afraid.”

Seventy percent of all Guatemalan children are said to suffer abuse. Most physical, sexual, verbal and emotional abuse in Guatemala is not reported because people don’t believe the authorities can help and mistreatment usually occurs at home where corporal punishment is legal.

The Jalapa grandmothers run a 12-session training course to teach that good parenting includes listening, talking, hugging and smiles. Graduates build community networks and teach their neighbors how to raise children with love.

From Grandmother Power: A Global Phenomenon by Paola Gianturco, published by powerHouse Books.
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International Grandmothers’ Day was the brainchild of two friends, both famous chefs: Darina Allen of the Ballymaloe Cookery School in County Cork, Ireland and Alice Waters of Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, California.

Darina and Alice worry about child obesity. “It’s not the children’s fault,“ Darina says. “It’s how food is produced now: high yield, nutrient deficient. Plus, cooking skills have been lost.” Few people cook with fresh, locally grown ingredients.

Allen and Waters believe grandmothers are the guardians of inherited wisdom. They imagined a special holiday when grandmothers would teach their grandchildren about growing, foraging, fishing—and cooking—fresh, local food.

Today, Slow Food Movement members in 150 countries celebrate International Grandmothers’ Day every April.

In Ireland, grandmothers and their grandchildren run farmers’ markets, plant edible gardens, and cook everything from scones, butter, chocolate, cookies, cupcakes and coconut macaroon tarts—to quiche with ham, salad, sausage and smoothies.

Darina, a grandmother of eight, says: ”It’s wonderful cooking with my grandchildren. They absolutely love to peel, mix, grate, chop—anything from pancakes to apple pies….and they’ll eat everything they grow, even if they shivered at the thought before. Amelia (age 2) eats raspberries off the bushes in her bare feet and breaks bits of broccoli right off the plant.”

From Grandmother Power: A Global Phenomenon by Paola Gianturco, published by powerHouse Books.
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