Kelowna resident Cheryl Fraser meets with a delegate at Uganda’s inaugural National Grandmothers Gathering held in 2015. Photo: Contributed

Kelowna and Africa grandmas join forces

Grandmothers For Africa campaign reaches Okanagan

Cheryl Fraser has been a passionate supporter of the Grandmothers For Africa campaign for more than a decade.

The movement was started in March 2006 in response to a then emerging crisis faced by African grandmothers as they struggled to care for millions of children orphaned by AIDS.

Fraser began her support of the initiative in 2006 and formed a Kelowna Grandmothers for Africa chapter in 2014.

The Kelowna chapter has since raised $100,000 for the campaign, largely through the participation support of the Stride To Turn The Tide walk/run, with the 5th annual event set for Mission Creek Regional Park on Saturday.

But the impact of her charitable efforts hit home when her eight-year-old granddaughter told her she had learned about the campaign at school.

“It was cross-generational in that my granddaughter was gaining some insight at school into what I had been spending my time doing,” Fraser said.

Related: Grandmothers reach out to help African counterparts

It also gave her pause to reaffirm how valuable her own children and eight grandchildren are to her own life. “It motivates you because you realize how much different your life would be if you didn’t have them.”

The recipients of the Grandmothers For Africa support are left to raise their grandkids often in severe poverty situations without any social or economic infrastructure in place to support them.

Fraser visited Uganda in 2015 to see for herself the impact of Canada’s efforts to support these grandmas.

From Oct. 5 to 7, 2015, hundreds of grandmothers from across Uganda made history. They came together for the country’s first National Grandmothers’ Gathering—an unprecedented opportunity for older women diversely affected by HIV and AIDS to voice their experiences, share their innovative strategies for responding to the pandemic, and collectively lay claim to constitutionally-protected rights too often denied.

Related: Kelowna grandmothers making strides for Africa

The Ugandan grandmothers were joined by grandmother delegations from Kenya and South Africa, as well as by 22 Canadian grandmothers including Fraser.

“I was on that trip as an observer and it was a very moving an inspiring experience that caused me to come home and speak more widely about their plight,” she said.

Besides her granddaughter’s classroom acknowledgement, Fraser has also been recently heartened by two awards the campaign has received.

One is for an Atlantic Publishers award for a book entitled “Powered By Love—A Grandmothers’ Movement to End AIDS in Africa” launched by the Lewis Foundation about the movement last fall, and the other was an international health award presented to the Grandmothers for Grandmothers campaign at the World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland.

Fraser said the campaign goals are to give a voice to African grandmothers, that local African governments respond to the rights of those called upon to step up and raise their grandsons and granddaughters, and to help meet their basic sustenance needs.

“This all started with 200 people attending a conference in Toronto and today we have 10,000 members across Canada and the campaign has spread to Australia and the UK,” she said.

Related: Grandmothers for Africa convene in Kelowna

The campaign currently boasts more than 240 grandmothers groups across the country. Many of the groups have organized into regional and national networks in order to support each other’s efforts in solidarity with African grandmothers and the children in their care.

A chapter has also started in the U.S. and there is talk in The Netherlands of doing the same.

Canada’s supportive effort was launched by the Stephen Lewis Foundation.

Fraser said the Kelowna group has a core membership of 12 people, not all of them grandmothers.

“Grandmas across Canada are making a difference and so is our chapter in Kelowna because of the support we have received from our community,” she said.

The Kelowna Grandmothers For Africa Run/Walk takes place Saturday, June 2, at Mission Creek Regional Park, beginning at 9 a.m. Registration is at 8:30 a.m. and the event winds up at 11 a.m.

There will be a 5-10 km run route and five km walk option. Donations can be made online to www.kelownagrandmothersforafrica.com.

To report a typo, email: edit@kelownacapnews.com.


@BarryGerding
barry.gerding@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Six people now mulling a mayoral bid in Kelowna this October

Five challengers and incumbent Colin Basran have picked up election packages for Oct. 20 civic vote

New urban winery approved by West Kelowna Council

The new winery will be located in the industrial area

Central Okanagan firefighters are battling wildfires across B.C.

Lake Country, Kelowna and Peachland crews are assisting the BC Wildfire Service

Short-term rentals could be allowed in Lake Country by next week

A bylaw for short-term rentals will be up for adoption during Tuesday’s council meeting

Goat’s Peak Park announced to open in fall

The $5M park will feature hiking trails

Interim GoFundMe payments approved in Humboldt Broncos crash

$50,000 to be given to each of the 13 survivors and each family of the 16 people who died

Ottawa intervenes to get B.C. ball player, 13, to Little League World Series

Before immigration issue was resolved, Dio Gama was out practicing the game he loves Wednesday

Pet goldfish invades small B.C. lake

Pinecrest Lake is located between Whistler and Squamish

Mounties deployed to help B.C. communities affected by wildfires

RCMP officers heading to places particularly within central, northern and southern B.C.

Chinese medicine practitioner in B.C. facing historical sex assault charges

71-year old Kit Wong practiced acupuncture from his home during the time of the assaults

Quebec sets aside $900 million for companies hurt by U.S. tariffs

Premier Philippe Couillard says his government will make $863 million available over five years

Ex-B.C. teachers’ union leader among latest pipeline protesters to get jail time

Twelve people have been sentenced for violating court order to stay away from Kinder Morgan terminal

Vernon tennis camp a slice

Juniors learning basics at Marshall Field courts

Most Read