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Added cause for celebration among Kelowna Grandmothers for Africa

By Barry Gerding on Nov 1st 2018 Kelowna Capital News

Cheryl Fraser met with a delegate at Uganda’s inaugural National Grandmothers Gathering previously held in Kelowna. Photo: Black Press files

The Kelowna Grandmothers for Africa have more reason to celebrate at the fundraiser they have planned for this weekend.

Called Chakula Kelowna, the event will feature several African cuisine dishes drawing on the connection the group has with community partners it supports in Africa through the Stephen Lewis Foundation.

One of those partners, Dr. Dennis Mukwege, is a recipient of a 2018 Nobel Peace Prize. Mukwege and his colleagues started the Panzi Hospital at Bukavu, Democratic Republic of the Congo, in 1999 to provide free care and treatment to victims of war, in particular women.

Panzi started as a maternity hospital but soon began treating women with severe internal injuries and obstetric complications from rape and other forms of sexual violence.

Cheryl Fraser, a Kelowna Grandmothers for Africa member, said in November 2007 the Stephen Lewis Foundation began funding a number of Panzi Hospital’s most urgent needs such as HIV counseling, testing and treatment, and post-rape kits to reduce the likelihood of HIV infection immediately after a sexual assault.

“It is rewarding to get that kind of affirmation, that something we are supporting gets that kind of acknowledgement, to see that the funds they receive from us and others through the foundation are being put to good use,” Fraser said.

The upcoming fundraiser, co-sponsored by Summerhill Winery and Genesis Kelowna, is presented by the Okanagan Chefs Association working with culinary students at Okanagan College.

Chakula is the Swahili word for food.

There will be five different presentations of African cuisine for participants to sample from along with wine, live entertainment and both silent and live auctions.

Fraser said this will be the third year the event will be held, the previous two being in 2015 and 2016 at the Kelowna college campus.

“We took a break in 2017 but we brought it back this year when Summerhill wanted to come on board as a sponsor and host the event,” Fraser said.

Fraser said Kelowna Grandmothers for Africa currently has about nine active members and another 15 to 20 supporters who help out with the group’s activities and events.

Since being initiated in 2007, the grannies have raised $116,000, with some $100,000 of that coming over the last four years after Fraser and others established a Kelowna chapter of the Grandmothers For Africa campaign.

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.

The Kelowna chapter has largely raised donations since through the participation support of the annual Stride To Turn The Tide Walk/Run at Mission Creek Regional Park.

Chakula Kelowna takes place Saturday, Nov. 3, at the Summerhill Winery, 4870 Chute Lake Rd.

Tickets are available online at www.eventbrite.ca or calling 250-764-9247.

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