Happy Grandparents Day!

This week the US celebrates National Grandparents’ Day on September 13th. The celebration day, which has taken place every year since 1978 is a time to honor older people for the unique role they play in keeping families and communities strong.

According to the 2000 U.S. Census, there are currently over 6 million children in the United States today who are living in grandfamilies.  Of these, 2.4 million children are being raised solely by their grandparents.

In developing countries too, grandparents give all the support and help they can to their families. Marilyn Grist, Director of HelpAge USA, says “HelpAge USA has chosen this year to highlight this crucial role, especially to the 100 million who live o­n less than a dollar a day. We feel this is a very appropriate day to highlight the role these older people play in raising families. Along with International Day of Older People o­n October 1st, it’s a chance to support older people worldwide to make their voices heard”

Up to half of the world’s children orphaned by AIDS are cared for by their grandparents, yet life can be a struggle for the grandparents who are poor. HelpAge International supports more than 1.2 million older people and their families every year and improves the lives of millions more through its advocacy work.

You can make a difference too!

This grandparents day give a donation in honour of a special grandparent in your life.

· $20 could pay a year’s school fees for o­ne child being cared for by grandparents.

· $50 could provide training in bookkeeping and marketing to help four grandmothers start a small business.

· $100 could enable a group of older people to learn more about HIV and AIDS so they can protect themselves and the children in their care from infection

Askele’s story

For Askele who lives in a village in Ethiopia, keeping three young grandchildren fed and clothed presents a daily challenge. And she has serious worries for the future, too. Fortunately, a HelpAge partner is within reach – easing some of her concerns.

“My daughter died of AIDS three years ago. So did her husband. They left three young children behind – so of course I took them in and now care for them. At my age, it’s hard to find the money to pay for everything they need, such as food, school supplies and clothes.

Now I’ve got another worry. Another of my daughters has been diagnosed with HIV – just 15 days ago. What if she doesn’t survive? She’s o­nly 30, with four young children.

Fortunately, some help is there for me. Mary Joy, a partner organisation of HelpAge International, has helped me obtain micro-credit so I can make a bit of income and keep the family fed. They also help me pay for school supplies and clothes.

With the help of Mary Joy, the family’s just about coping, although it’s not easy. I’m happiest when me and all my children and grandchildren live together peacefully – this makes me feel good and that life is worthwhile. My biggest wish is for all of my children to live healthily.”