January 17, 2012
Canadian women are helping the grandmothers of AIDS orphans in sub-Saharan Africa by getting involved in the Stephen Lewis Foundation's Grandmothers for Grandmothers campaign. Chapters across Canada help raise awareness about African grandmothers and the children in their care affected by AIDS, and they provide funds for assistance such as HIV testing and nutrition.
"You hear their stories and you realize we all have the same needs," said Rosemary Carter, an Ottawa chapter member. "But here in Canada, if we need medicine or food, we can get it. Not for these grandmothers."
"We are women who have retired, who have expertise and energy," said Carter. "And as grandmothers, we know what it can be like."
An estimated 14.8 million children under age 18 are orphaned by AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. Many of these at-risk children are taken in by their grandmothers, who often cannot handle the financial burdens of additional food, basic care, and school fees.
"We have the same expectations for our grandchildren: an independent career, health, happiness," Carter said. "It doesn't occur to me 'Will my grandchild have food tomorrow? Will she get an education? Will she be safe?"
The 240 chapters of Grandmothers for Grandmothers in Canada have helped raise $12 million (US $11.8 million) for the campaign. For more information, visit: www.stephenlewisfoundation.org/get-involved/grandmothers-campaign.