From Mexico, an experience intended to draw attention to the value the wisdom of the elderly, for their welfare and that of their families
The idea of creating a group of "Grandparents for the family" was born on a Sunday, at the end of 2007, when José Aste, at Mass in his parish in Cuernavaca, Mexico, realized just how many "white heads" there were in the assembly in the church of Our Lady Mother of Mercy. Immediately, he turned his thoughts to consider the wealth of experience of each of those elderly people, especially within the family. He shared his observations with the priest and asked for permission to organize a group of grandparents in the parish. The priest willingly accepted the idea and invited Jose to submit as soon as possible a project for approval by the Parish Council, which agreed enthusiastically.
To form the group of grandparents the concept-guide used by José, who is a grandfather himself, was based on the finding that grandparents’ experience could serve to accompany and orient families today. "In fact—says José—my grandparents were privileged witnesses of the change, which has often been radical, in the family in recent decades, since, having lived both before and after the turning points, they saw all the advantages and disadvantages associated with this transformation."
On the basis of each participant‘s experience in the family, shared by all the grandparents present, the group has outlined four objectives: First, to propose practical solutions for the protection and welfare of the family. Secondly, the group seeks to make these solutions known, so that they may be of use to families today. Thirdly, religious training is given to grandparents, which equips them with the tools necessary to find God and, at the same time, the solution to problems related to old age. Lastly, the project in general, therefore, aims the make it possible for grandparents to feel good about themselves, by becoming more useful to others. In order to achieve these goals, then essential technology training is offered to grandparents that helps to bridge the digital divide—and therefore the communication gap—between them and their grandchildren.
The group of grandparents is composed of about 60 people, who meet two afternoons per month, for two hours, in general sessions hosted by the parish. Normally, each session begins with the discussion of a topic (using lectures and films) related to the objectives of the group. At the end of these presentations, the grandparents are then encouraged to tell about their own experience related to the particular area being discussed, thus making their experience available to the other participants, in a dynamic mutually enriching process.
The sessions are normally organized by a steering committee (10-15 persons, including grandparents) and a coordinator, who have the task of preparing the program of sessions and keeping the whole group informed, especially via internet, about scheduled meetings, objectives, and related activities (such as pilgrimages). The Committee meets, to keep updated, twice a month, one week before each of the general monthly sessions of the grandparents.