A GRAND Market to benefit African grandmothers

Author Dianne Holland sorts clothes for the Chic Boutique at the GRAND Market, to be held November 17 at Lansdowne’s Horticulture Building. Photo: Cathy Blauer

by Dianne Holland

Grandmothers in the national capital region are coming together once again to raise funds for the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s Grandmothers Campaign to help African grandmothers struggling to support families ravaged by HIV/AIDS.

The fifth annual GRAND Market is coming back to Lansdowne Park’s Horticulture Building on November 17. The market features new and gently used offerings including high-quality women’s clothing and accessories, jewellery, children’s toys, books, board games and tabletop treasures, as well as baked goods, crafts and holiday items. Visitors can enjoy coffee, treats or lunch at the Sweet and Savoury Café, a Tarot card reading with Grandmother Moon  or a visit with our new palm reader.

There are 24 grandmother groups in the Ottawa-Gatineau region and more than 240 across the country. Canadian grandmothers and “grand-others” (you don’t have to be a grandmother to join us) also work with the Grandmothers Advocacy Network to advocate for the rights of the African grandmothers and to press the Canadian government to ensure a fair share of foreign aid goes directly to these needy communities.

The GRAND Market is a major fundraiser for the Stephen Lewis Foundation (SLF), which funds African community-based organizations that are helping grandmothers and others infected with and affected by HIV/AIDS to reclaim their lives and overcome the ravages of the disease with dignity. These groups are providing peer support to grandmothers who are raising some 15 million young people orphaned by AIDS. In addition, they are standing up for women’s rights to non-violence, pensions and age-friendly health care. The SLF has supported more than 300 such organizations in sub-Saharan Africa, which has been the hardest hit by the pandemic. In 2017, 1.8 million teenagers and children were living with HIV. Young women are particularly vulnerable. Every week, approximately 6,200 young women between 15 and 24 contract HIV, often because of forced marriages, gender-based violence and other situations beyond their control.

In addition to delivering life-saving medication and health care, the support groups are also restoring hope, dignity and possibility. This in turn leads participants to make better choices for their health and safety. They eat better, stay on their medications, avoid unprotected sex and contribute to their communities. This is what the SLF calls “the resilience effect” and it’s a great success story of the grassroots response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa.

Many of the Ottawa-Gatineau grandmothers marched in solidarity with thousands of young people at the climate change protest march in September. Participants were inspired by 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg. Hers is the generation of the future. African grandmothers are determined that their efforts will produce the future leaders of their society. In their words: “We will not raise more children for the grave. We do this out of love”.

I hope you’ll join us at the 2019 GRAND Market. You can support a worthwhile cause, connect with neighbours and friends, reuse by purchasing some spectacular clothing, purses, jewellery and household treasures, enjoy some delicious food and shop for the holiday season.

The GRAND Market runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, November 17 in the Horticulture Building at Lansdowne Park. Thanks to our main sponsor Catherine Bell, Royal LePage Team Realty. Admission is free.

Dianne Holland is a resident of the Glebe and a member of the One World Grannies.

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