Match Her Generosity and We Will Too

#Giving Tuesday for Older People  December 3, 2013

Grandparents around the world are bringing up the next generation

Around the world, as a growing number of working-age parents migrate to urban areas for work, more and more children are placed in grandparent care. In areas such as Sub-Saharan Africa, grandparents are caring for children who have lost their parents to HIV/AIDS.

Startling facts:

  • A World Bank study on 20 countries in Africa and Latin America found that 1 in 5 children are living with their grandparents.
  • In sub-Saharan Africa approximately 16 million children have lost one or both parents to AIDS.
  • In Kenya around 1.1 million children have been orphaned by AIDS.
  • 36.7% of AIDS orphans in Kenya are living with older people.
  • In Cambodia, 79% of orphaned and vulnerable children are cared for by older people.
  • In Moldova, a study of 1,000 households showed that when both parents are abroad, 91% live with their grandparents.  

Despite overwhelming challenges, dedicated grandparents are taking full responsibility for the care and upbringing of their grandchildren. Far from complaining, many of these older carers say that bringing up their grandchildren brings them great satisfaction:

“It is a great privilege to look after my grandchildren. At least I feel that I am able to do something for my own children who have passed on.”

“The children bring a lot of energy and joy into the home. They are keeping me young.”

The Economic Impact of Grandparents

A study in South Africa highlights the economic contribution of older people, particularly older women. Desk research commissioned by Dutch NGO World Granny assessed the economic value of childcare carried out by grandmothers, by calculating what it would cost to carry out this activity another way. It concludes that older caregivers contribute US$1,365 million a year (0.58 per cent of GDP). The amount is US$625 million (0.27 per cent of GDP) if only care of orphans is considered.

A study by the Australian Government in 2003 estimated that women between the ages of 65 and 74 years contribute $16 billion per year in unpaid caregiving and voluntary work. Similarly, men in the same age group contributed $10 billion per year. In Hong Kong, the contributions of 60-79 year-olds to the national economy are estimated to be worth US$117 million per year.

HelpAge and our work supporting Grandparents

In 2013, we helped more older people to improve and protect their livelihoods. We provided 4,600 older people’s groups with training, grants, agricultural inputs and savings and loans schemes, a 30 per cent increase over last year. We focused on those living in remote areas and places vulnerable to climate change or disasters, and those caring for grandchildren whose parents had migrated for work or died of AIDS.

Why do we work with older people and children?

Older people are frequently among the poorest in developing countries due to their reduced capacity to earn a living. 80 per cent have no regular income at all. Yet, older people care for more orphans and vulnerable children than any other age group

HelpAge is challenging the damaging perception that older people are a burden and can be overlooked. We are looking at the bigger picture about the relationship between children and older people. Our work targets those who care for orphaned and vulnerable children, particularly where HIV/AIDS affects families.

Match Her Generosity

This #GivingTuesday, we're spotlighting the selflessness of "global grandmothers" - women who have taken in their orphaned grandchildren, providing the gift of life and a home, without fanfare or social benefits. Yet when asked about their situations and day-to-day lives, these grandmothers never foresaw any other option; it would have been unthinkable to bring their grandchildren anywhere but home.

Match her generosity, and we will, too - this holiday season, all gifts will be matched, dollar for dollar, up to $5,000!

This holiday season, help us give thanks to all the global grandmothers around the world. These women do not stop giving back to their communities and their families - join us as we match their generosity.

Match Her Generosity