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Smith College

Publication Date

Spring 2008

Program Name

South Africa: Public Health


Across Africa, the AIDS pandemic has forced HIV+ individuals and orphaned children into the care of elderly women. Though this has occurred in millions of families, little support has been offered for the grandmothers supporting children and grandchildren on a limited income. This study reports on a practicum study at Grandmothers Against Poverty and AIDS (GAPA), the first African organization to recognize the important role played by grandmothers in light of HIV/AIDS. The study was conducted in April 2008 at the GAPA center in Khayelitsha Township, Cape Town. The main objective of the study was to evaluate the organization’s origin, structure, goals, methods, efficacy, community relations, obstacles, areas for improvement, and goals for the future. The study focused on GAPA’s preschool bursary program, which funds preschool attendance for grandmothers’ young dependents. The study was conducted over a three week period, during which the author acted as an intern and participant observer at GAPA. Data was obtained through interviews, surveys, and observations both at the GAPA center and in home groups. This paper documents the study’s findings and offers a critical analysis of GAPA’s strengths, weaknesses, suggestions for the future. In general, GAPA was found to be a highly successful organization with numerous successful initiatives in place. Of these, however, several of GAPA’s programs stand out as needing refinement, namely aftercare, income generation and workshops. The author has noted suggestions for improvement, such as introducing new forms of entertainment for aftercare children, expanding the income generation sales base, and streamlining the recruitment process for workshops. GAPA’s preschool bursary program was evaluated and found to be successful but in need of expansion. Acquisition of sufficient funding has proved to be the foremost obstacle in refining GAPA’s initiatives.


Health Policy | Public Health


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