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Grandmothers for Africa convene in Kelowna

Kelowna Capital News, October 5, 2017.

Kelowna Grandmothers for Africa recently hosted a gathering of grandmothers from throughout the B.C. Interior.

Representing 13 grandmothers’ groups from Prince George to Invermere to Osoyoos to Kamloops, participants came to Get Acquainted, Get Inspired, and Get Ideas.

The groups are all affiliated with the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign. Their mandate is to raise awareness and funds for grandmothers in sub-Saharan Africa who have assumed the monumental task of raising the multitude of children orphaned by the AIDS pandemic.

Ida Nambeya Mukuka, from Zambia, keynote speaker at the gathering, is a Senior Advisor to the Stephen Lewis Foundation in Africa, working with African and Canadian grandmothers alike to strengthen the bonds of solidarity.

For nine years, Ida was one of the SLF’s trusted Field Representatives, using her extensive knowledge and experience to help build the capacity of grassroots AIDS organizations throughout sub-Saharan Africa. She travels worldwide, providing up-to-date knowledge about the progress achieved and the opportunities to assist communities in Africa.

Peggy Edwards from Ottawa has written extensively on grandparenting, aging and the rights of older people. She spoke eloquently about the growing strength of the grandmothers’ movement both in Africa and in Canada. Grandmothers today were the backbone of the women’s movement in the 1960s and ‘70s. Today they continue to work, focused on improving the rights of girls and older women worldwide.

Gail Wilen from Sunshine Coast Grandmothers and GrandOthers was selected as one of the delegation of Canadian grandmothers observing the gathering of South African Grandmothers in 2016.

While travelling there, she spent time in Zambia with Ida, learning first-hand how the Grandmothers Campaign has assisted communities and families. The 2016 Grandmothers Gathering made a powerful statement about the strength and vibrancy of the grandmothers’ movement in South Africa.

From Victoria, Phyllis Webster coached participants to present her original play, Climbing the Staircase to Success, highlighting the issues facing communities, families, girls and women in Africa. Her play left the powerful message that much progress has been made and many opportunities to help remain.

Participants at the Gathering came away reinvigorated to the slogan “We will not rest until they can rest.”

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