Grandmothers do it for charity

Grandmothers do it for charity


The Oliver Grandmothers for Africa group is busy collecting gently used home décor items to be sold at a charity event this Saturday, June 8 from 9:30 am to 2 pm at Oliver United Church.

Do drop in and explore a wide variety of items. It is the perfect place to stop for a cup of coffee and a homemade muffin, too as you decide whether you need or just want a specific find. All the proceeds from the event will be used to support the grassroots work of the Stephen Lewis Foundation.

Grandmothers, more than most, recognize the courage it takes for African grandmothers to bury their children and then spend years raising their orphaned grandchildren.

They need sustained help and Stephen Lewis has promised the foundation will never cease its work until the AIDS pandemic is defeated. We continue to be awed by the astonishing resilience of grassroots organizations we support.

One such group in Malawi, Consol Homes Orphan Care, has grown to 107 child care centres serving more than 30,000 children, with more than 500 community volunteers covering 1,200 villages.

African grandmothers have been building the new centres with their own hands. It started with a door-to-door campaign to fund a pre-school where tiny orphans could gather for story-telling, emotional support and health monitoring. Soon the centres were offering feeding and school fee support for older kids.

Teens organized to help build the homes and tend gardens for grannies. Now they are promoting skills training. Committees of widows help the newly bereaved, village self help groups are participating in micro-credit initiatives and opening bank accounts.

African grandmothers share a common concern: What will happen to my grandchildren when I die? They want to ensure the security of their grandchildrens’ future; to know that they will be cared for, that they will stay in school and stay HIV-free.

“You are afraid to think of their tomorrow,” said one Kenyan grandmother. “You look at them – beautiful, nice, innocent kids, but you are afraid for their tomorrow.”

So when you come and buy some winsome item from the home décor event, you can feel good about helping the Stephen Lewis Foundation and knowing your money will go into programs aimed at making sure “tomorrow” is better for African orphans and their grandmothers.

Marion Boyd

Special to the Chronicle