Kelowna grandmoms reach out to African counterparts

The Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign has evolved from grief to empowering the future

Cheryl Fraser meets with Miriam

Cheryl Fraser was in Entebbe, Uganda in early October as a delegate representing the Stephen Lewis Foundation at the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign.

Fraser is the chairperson of the Kelowna Grandmothers for Africa, which supports the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign.

The campaign started 10 years ago at a gathering in Toronto as a response to the AIDS pandemic that has left many grandmothers in Uganda and other African nations as the primary caregivers for their grandchildren.

The gathering in Entebbe was the first national gathering in Uganda, and the Ugandan grandmothers were joined by other grandmothers from around the world, such as Fraser.

While there, they networked to find ideas that were working in communities other than their own and created the Ugandan Grandmothers Statement, which is holding the Ugandan government accountable to discriminative laws and policy that keeps them from having things like titles to their land, pensions and medical care.

Fraser was also at the Toronto meeting 10 years ago, and she noted this one was quite different.

“In 2006, when the African grandmothers came to the AIDS conference in Toronto, I met with 200 grandmothers from across Africa,” she recalled.

“It was all about loss, grieving, tears and high emotion. There was hopelessness because these grandmothers had huge tasks, and they had just gone through the grief and loss of losing all of their children, their spouses and some of their grandchildren.

“In 2015 the grandmothers have organized within their communities where they’re giving nursing care and helping out with feeding problems.”

Fraser noted tremendous steps have been taken to help the grandmothers since 2006, as they have moved from tears and loss to empowerment and influence.

On Nov. 14, the Kelowna Grandmothers for Africa will be hosting Discover Africa’s Culture and Cuisine, a fundraiser for the Stephen Lewis Foundation, which supports African grandmothers.

At the fundraiser, for which they have partnered with the Kelowna Sunrise Rotary Club for, Fraser will be recounting her experience in Uganda.

“There’s a silent auction, some of them are beautiful Zimbabwean stone sculptures, others are hand-crafted baskets filled with other hand-crafted items and some are donations from the local community,” she explained.

The fundraiser will also have an African dinner, and African inspired drumming and dance.

Tickets to the event can be found though Eventbrite or by contacting Cheryl Fraser directly at 250-764-9247.