Nina, as a child phsychologist, had worked with Rose at the Mental Health Clinic for distressed children in Alexandra township, and had recognised that the grandmothers, who brought the orphaned children to the clinic, were equally traumatised, and so, together, they formed support groups amongst the women. In an effort to assist these Gogos (the Zulu name for grandmothers), a group of ten Wakefield women banded together to establish personal contact and offer help.
A film “The Great Granny Revolution” , was been made to great acclaim; both groups in each community have grown three or four-fold; visits have taken place, and firm friendships established over the intervening nine years.
During his recent visit to South Africa, our Governor General made a presentation to Rose to recognise her work, and the connection between our two countries.
The citation read:
The Governor General Visit Medallion is awarded to Ms Rose Letwaba's for her exceptional contribution to supporting South African Grandmothers (Gogos) who find themselves with the responsibility to care for their grandchildren, orphaned by the death of their own children dying from AIDS. For the incredible work she is now doing as CEO of Sparrow Villages, a shelter for orphaned children and also a hospice for people affected with the HIV virus. For her drive in co-founding the Gogo Granny Support Group with the Wakefield Grandmothers of Wakefield, Quebec, an initiative that has been documented in the film The Great Granny Revolution. Her Canadian co-founder Mrs. Norma Geggie received the Governor General Caring Canadian Award in 2012. The Stephen Lewis Foundation’s Grandmother to Grandmother Campaign was modelled after this small initiative that started between the grandmothers of Wakefield and the gogos of Alexandra Township. There are now over 140 grandmother groups across Canada who are partnered with gogo groups across the African continent.