A dedicated group of Wetaskiwin area residents are determined to change the life of African seniors one donated bolt of cloth at a time.
A fabric frenzy sale was held at the Wetaskiwin Grace Lutheran Church on Sept. 16, with the funds raised being donated to the Stephen Lewis Foundation Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign.
The Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign works to support African grandmothers who have stepped in to provide a life for their grandchildren amid the HIV and AIDS pandemic.
Members of the campaign aim for raise funds to support the women and their grandchildren, listen to African grandmothers and respect their experience and voices in order to promote authentic responses to the pandemic, and build solidarity among grandmothers across the world in order to sustain the work being done to combat AIDS in Africa.
Wetaskiwin co-ordinator Marilyn McMillan says the community fabric sale garnered $4,363 in sales and donations.
“Our particular little group of grandmothers and grand’others’ has raised just under $50,000 in the last five years,” said McMillan.
While Wetaskiwin has been involved for the five years, the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign celebrated its 10th anniversary last year. In 10 years the campaign has raised move than $25 million.
There are 240 community groups across the county involved in the Canadian founded initiative. “Interestingly enough it’s starting to spread to Australia, Britain and the U.S.,” said McMillan.
McMillan says their work is tied to Sub-Saharan Africa, as the AIDS pandemic has hit the area especially hard.
“I think we’ve made some real differences,” said McMillan.
She says as the African grandmothers gain a sense of solidarity, compassion and unity to their plight from an international base they are beginning to work themselves to improve their quality of life.
McMillan says, traditionally when a husband dies the brother-in-law has the right to step in and claim the livelihood, assets or estate as their own with no opportunity given to the wife. The tradition is not being well received by the grandmothers.
“Whats happening now is the grandmothers are getting hope. They’re beginning to petition their politicians for better rights,” said McMillan.
“They’re moving from subsistence to more of a human rights movement,” she added.
Wetaskiwin’s volunteers do not only utilize fabric sales to help raise funds. They’ve also held costume jewelry sales, used book sales, teas, garden parties, Christmas craft sales and belly dancers.
This year the group has held two major events so far and hopes to be involved in the Wetaskiwin Winter Warmup craft sale.
“Even though we had a frenzy of shoppers, at the end of the afternoon we had an abundance of stock left, which we shared well,” said McMillan, referring to the fabric sale.
The leftover donations were divvied up for other charitable endeavours.
“The Northridge Quilters received fabric. They put together quilts for Neighbors Outreach Wetaskiwin, Salvation Army, Victim Services, Women’s Shelter, and Habitat for Humanity Wetaskiwin. Another lady took fabric to make quilts for Little Warriors. Some women took cloth for Stollery Hospital quilts as well as quilts for cancer patients. One lady found perfect material for Smile Dresses to send to Rwanda. A couple women sew walker bags for Medi Lend and were given what they needed. Another woman sews book bags for the library and dog beds for rescue dogs,” said McMillan.