The ASK HER talk held in Edmonton on November 23, was a unique opportunity to hear first hand from African women directly involved in supporting and building communities affected by HIV and AIDS. Despite wintry winds and snow, people from Edmonton and area came out to listen and to learn about current conditions in Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Kenya and South Africa.
GANG members enjoyed an informal meal with our African sisters on November 24, and were moved and inspired by their passion and commitment to the people in their communities.
A delicious meal was shared by GANG members, SLF staff and our African sisters.
Hope Chigudu, Zimbabwe Women’s Resource Centre and Judy Dube, GANG member
Wendy Legaarden and Joyce Madsen from The GANG’s Education Committee
Vuyiseka Dubula, Peres Abeka and Dorothy Onyango, three of the speakers at the ASK HER talks.
The group of African guests, GANG members and SLF staff pose for a photo.
The GANG is pleased to partner with the Stephen Lewis Foundation to present the Edmonton ASK HER talks, featuring grassroots leaders and HIV-positive activists from Kenya, Ethiopia, Zimbabawe, and South Africa, speaking about philanthropy, change and power in the context of women’s rights and HIV & AIDS. Visit askhertalks.com for more information.
“I want to do more to help the Grandmothers and Orphans of Sub-Saharan Africa.” So stated Hayley Volk, a fourth grade student at Johnny Bright School in Edmonton. Hayley’s class had created “robots” out of waste material, creatively and with individual input. They raised about $500 for the Stephen Lewis Foundation by selling their robots. They were all proud of their work and involvement. So was Hayley, but she wanted to do more.
With the encouragement of GANG member Vivian Pich along with her teacher, Hayley devised her own new project. Her mother helped her select attractive beads to create bracelets and necklaces, and then Hayely and her classmate Evan sold this jewelery themselves at a GANG garage sale. What an enterprising, committed young student! Her spirit and caring inspired us all.
Ida Mukaka, field representative from the Stephen Lewis Foundation, made her inaugural trip to Edmonton April 26 to spread the word about what is happening with some of the projects funded by the Foundation in sub-Saharan Africa. Ida is a compelling speaker; she speaks from the heart and everyone in the audience was captivated and moved by the stories she had to tell.
You can see more photos from Ida’s presentation in our Photo Gallery.
Chat With Ida- by Judy Dube, Northern Alberta Liaison, SLF
40 grandmothers from 5 different Northern Alberta Grandmother Groups gathered Sunday afternoon April 27 for a “Chat With Ida”. Ida Mukuka, from Zambia, is a Field Representative with the Stephen Lewis Foundation (SLF). Through her work, she visits SLF funded projects throughout sub-Saharan Africa offering support and direction. The GANG was pleased to host Chat With Ida on her recent Canadian visit.
Through a series of photos and many stories, Ida shared how SLF funding is making a profound difference in the lives of African grandmothers, their grandchildren and their communities.
One such photo story focused on children who were receiving lunches funded through a SLF project while attending their local school. Ida shared that when this lunch program first began, the children rushed to the food grabbing handful yet eating very little as they stashing the food away. Over time the children realized there would be enough food for everyone and their behaviour shifted. This resulted in more organized distributing of food, food being eaten, and spontaneous sharing of food among the children; the school attendance increased as did the children’s learning. One photo showed many smiling children holding food packages they were taking home for their Grandmothers. Positive change was evident.
We saw many pictures of grandmothers who were busily involved in SLF funded projects. Ida emphatically shared that their smiling faces were an indication that these heroic women’s lives had improved; they were less stressed and coping better as they had food and housing for their families … and now many of their grandchildren were attending school regularly.
Judy Hayman, GANG chair, thanked Ida for sharing with such passion and humor how our local grandmother groups were making an impact. One grandmother shared as she was leaving “Thanks to Ida I am going home to work even harder!”
The GANG (Grandmothers of Alberta for a New Generation) is Celebrating African Grandmothers with ART.
African grandmothers are leaders in their communities and the primary caregivers for their grandchildren and their immediate families. They work valiantly to fight the stigma of HIV/AIDS, raise awareness about the virus and provide vital care to people living with it. Experts in the work to overcome the pandemic, they are on the frontlines as agents of change. In spite of the heartache and hardships, there are signs everywhere that the tide of AIDS is beginning to turn at the community level.
The GANG, a group of 85 Edmonton and area grandmothers who are friends of the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign of the Stephen Lewis Foundation, fundraise to support the work of African grandmothers.
The 2013 art show Celebrating African Grandmothers, heroes of the continent, is a juried art exhibition. The call for entries brought 83 submissions from artists in across Canada, the United States and Europe. The 40 pieces selected by the jury tell the story of the hope and small triumphs which light the way to victory over the AIDS pandemic.
The artwork provides a window to the world of sub-Saharan African grandmothers and celebrates their tireless work for a safer and brighter future for the next generation.
On display at the Nina Haggerty Centre for the Arts the exhibit will then travel to 15 locations in Western Canada from Campbell River to Brandon Manitoba. It will return to New Westminster on the eve of International Women’s Day, March 7, 2014, for a gala auction.
African grandmothers are heroic women who meet adversity head-on as they raise their voices in song, move their bodies in rhythm and heal themselves and their communities. We celebrate them! We hope you will share our admiration for the matriarchs of Africa and recognize that, while positive strides have been made, there is still much to be done. Please join us!
On March 21, 2013, five GANG members set forth in the blizzard, #YEGSTORM, to meet and assist in a classroom, grade 5/6, at Jackson Heights Elementary School. These students and master teacher, Karen Mosewich, would be creating African angels, as a culmination of their research on the countries that the Stephen Lewis Foundation supports.
Our first involvement with the students of this classroom was during Read-In Week in October of 2012. The books chosen gave students a glimpse of and a chance to converse about countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, about grandmothers, and the special needs of their global sisters. They heard about the work of the GANG in Edmonton, about the orphaned African children, and how the hearts and hands of Canadian grandmothers are reaching out to undertake meaningful and effective projects in 15 African nations through the Stephen Lewis Foundation.
By the grace of an engaged and globally aware teacher, we were able to together devise a program for her class. It would serve to encourage her students’ involvement, and address her own curriculum plans.
The students chose one African country (from among the Foundation-involved countries) to develop a report with subtopics and expectations outlined. This research paper was important as an indicator of their language arts research skills, their ability to express themselves in writing, and in developing their presentation skills in sharing their finished product. This work was also a valuable evaluation tool for their teacher.
The students accomplished their task over a period of time, with a variety and significant amount of learnings clearly demonstrated. The projects were ultimately proudly displayed in a school showcase.
The culminating activity was making African angels – the exciting and creative activity that proved to be both engaging and fun. With five GANG members as assistants (special thanks are due to Joyce Madsen, Jan McGregor, Judy Dube, Diane Stewart, and Vivian Pich), and some volunteer parents, the students spent a half-day creating angels. The extensive preliminary work done by Karen, their teacher, was paramount in the success of this endeavor.
The students’ angels turned out beautifully. Among the many creative designs and expressions was a set of “Triplet Angels”, identical in garb, but distinctive in bling. They were created by three boys who collaborated both in and out of school. They epitomized the genial and fun atmosphere of this creative day.
Now the angels will be sold to parents and, hopefully, at other community events. The students have a huge sense of pride and exhibited so much joy in being able to express their passion, global awareness, and engagement. They all recognize that they can and do have a personal hand in assisting African orphans and grandmothers.