The Mother Witherspoon
This program was launched July 2011 with LoveLife, Inc. in Johannesburg, South Africa. In 2010, we were given the opportunity to travel with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to South Africa to explore developing partnerships with community based organizations. GoGogethers, from the word ‘gogo’ which is an affectionate term for grandmother, are part of a network of 500 grandmothers across South Africa who support teenagers and their younger siblings to develop a sense of purpose and belonging in life. Thegrandmothers of LoveLife,
help keep young people in school, access social grants, prevent sexual and physical abuse, and increase access to food. Many of these children and teenagers come from families impacted by AIDs.
The South African grandmothers reminded us of many grandmothers in the USA; especially a very special grandmother, Mother Almeta Witherspoon. Mother Witherspoon was a grandmother who encompassed the spirit of a goGogether. She supported many children and was a counselor, mother, friend, and advocate. To honor her legacy, we launched a partnership with the goGogethers of South Africa. The Mother Witherspoon goGogether project provides educational materials and many other special resources needed to support the goGogethers in Soweto and the Greater Johannesburg region. There are 25 goGogethers in the Gauteng Province serving over 136 teenagers. In addition, all of the grandmothers in this cluster have community projects ranging from school feeding programs to afterschool care and homework classes reaching a minimum of 30 children each. Therefore, Greater Johannesburg serves 136 orphans in addition to approximately 180 vulnerable young people. For the entire Gauteng Province, there are about 600 young people on the goGogethers program.
In July 2011, with the support of many, we were able to send over $18,000 in books, games, toys, educational materials and school supplies.
goGogether Paula working with her children!