Sunday, November 15, 2009

Granny Fest

Despite not yet being a grandmother myself, I am part of a Grandmothers to Grandmothers group. Because several of us in the group are not grandmothers, we call our group Ammas for Grammas. (Amma is a term to address older women as a term of respect in many countries).

Grandmothers to Grandmothers is part of the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s campaign to support grandmothers in Africa who are raising their grandchildren due to the high incidence of aids related illness and death.

One of the questions on the minds of some of the people who hear about the campaign is: Why not help Canadian grandmothers and Canadian grandchildren? Shouldn't we be helping our own first?

I won’t deny that there are people in need, even in prosperous countries like our own, and we have a responsibility to take care of those who truly need our help. But in addition, I think it’s important to reach beyond our own borders and help those who are in even greater need.

I’ve seen first hand during my travels to countries like India, Nepal, Tanzania and South Africa that so many people on our planet do not have the options for assistance that we do. While it’s not a situation that I’d wish on anyone, people in need here do have options; options such as shelters, food banks, unemployment, and social assistance.

For those in similar situations in developing countries, there are very few places to turn. They have limited access to education, therefore little hope that the future will be different. If they are not able to support themselves, they die. The people that are most affected are children and the elderly – the people that the Grandmothers to Grandmothers campaign is focused on helping.

Yesterday I attended a ‘granny fest’ gathering of the various groups in the Ottawa-Gatineau region. There were workshops on group development, advocacy and fundraising, and it was a great opportunity to connect with other groups and hear about their events and challenges.
Peggy (our group's head Amma), Anka (craft-maker extraordinaire) and I also had an opportunity to test the waters in preparation for our craft sale on November 29th (more information to follow).

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