How grandmas are mending the mental health crisis in Zimbabwe

Every day, I read what journalists around the world are reporting about grandparents and their families. Here are some stories that gripped me recently.

Harare’s park bench grandmas: ‘I speak to them and feel a load is lifted off my heart’

In Zimbabwe, millions of people suffer from depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses, but there are only 13 psychiatrists.

So grandmas are being trained to step in.

On “Friendship Benches” outside health clinics, older women offer informal, one-on-one counseling to anyone who needs a hand.

“I was desperate to find someone to talk to about my problems,” says one client, an unemployed mother of three. “When I speak to them, I feel like a load is lifted off my heart.”

The Guardian • April 14, 2017

Far from Mexico, these abuelas keep it close to their hearts 

In a series of portraits of Mexican grandmothers who live and work in New York City, photographer Cinthia Santos Briones, 33, transcends the stereotype of the beaten-down immigrant laborer.

“I wanted to show that in the migratory process there is a lot of pain, but there is also happiness,” says Cinthia. “It was interesting to speak of Mexicans from another perspective. They always show us dirty and suffering. They show us as domestics, mopping floors and washing windows.”

Cinthia asked each grandmother to surround herself with objects that mattered to her and to dress and pose in a way that reflected her personality.

“This was how they wanted to be seen.”

The New York Times • April 25, 2017

To be a genius, think like a 94-year-old

John Goodenough, a 94-year-old physicist, “has just set the tech industry abuzz with his blazing creativity,” reports The New York Times.

“He and his team at the University of Texas at Austin filed a patent on a new kind of battery that, if it works as promised, would be so cheap, lightweight, and safe that it would revolutionize electric cars and kill off petroleum-fueled vehicles.”

“We tend to assume that creativity wanes with age. But Dr. Goodenough’s story suggests that some people actually become more creative as they grow older.”

“You have to draw on a fair amount of experience in order to be able to put ideas together,” Goodenough says.

Besides, he says, with old age comes freedom.

“You no longer worry about keeping your job,” he says.

The New York Times • April 7, 2017