Grandmother to Grandmother : New York to Tanzania


In sub Saharan Africa, AIDS is wiping out a generation of parents, leaving 13 million orphans behind.  Many of the grandmothers, impoverished by the epidemic, have rescued these children from the streets and are struggling to raise them. A similar thing is happening in cities all across America. AIDS, drugs, and violence are wiping out a generations of parents, leaving millions of children behind and being raised by their grandmothers in gang-ridden neighborhoods.




One thing you know when a child is living with a grandparent, it’s not for a good reason. What we do to help the child understand why the parent isn’t raising them; we tell them the story and it has to be the honest real story.  You can’t sugarcoat a tragic incident.

Michelle Chapple Director, Caregiver Support Grandparent Family Apartments Bronx, NY

In Sub-Saharan Africa, AIDS has orphaned thirteen million children.  Many of these children are themselves infected with HIV.  They live on the streets, begging for food in the day and sleeping in trash filled lots at night. The “luckier” ones — between 40 and 60 percent — are being raised by their grandmothers. These older women, many already impoverished after caring for the dying parents, now have total responsibility for raising another generation. Few can afford the books and uniforms required to send their grandchildren to school.

The same crushing burden carried by these African women is also being shouldered by tens of thousands of grandmothers living in urban ghettos in the United States. On top of the diminishments of aging, poor nutrition, and unhealthy lifestyles, these women are suffering shame and grief over the loss of their own children to AIDS, drugs, violence, and prison. With their hopes for a peaceful old age shattered, and facing the prospect of parenting grandchildren who are depressed and angry at having been left without a mom and dad, they live with the constant worry of how to keep their grandchildren from dropping out of school, getting pregnant, and falling prey to the unrelenting dangers of the street.

Our film not only describes the problem, but proposes a practical solution. We tell the stories of grandmothers and grandchildren from two model projects, one in Tanzania and one in the Bronx, and show how inspired partnerships can transform situations fraught with confusion and fear into opportunities for renewal and hope. The study guides and supplementary material offered with this film will encourage and empower viewers to replicate these two model projects in other urban communities in the USA and in impoverished communities in sub-Saharan Africa.


Cine Golden Eagle Award

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Consumer/Home Video, Public Library/Secondary School, Synagogue/Church/Mosque, University/College/College Library, Public Performance/Screening License


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