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Scanlan: 'Grassroots Grannies' cycle the distance to help grandmothers in Africa

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If you want something done in this country, ask a grandmother.

Stephen Lewis, educator and former politician, did this more than a decade ago and it resulted in a significant contribution to African grandmothers left with orphans from the AIDS crisis that continues to rage in Africa. Lewis, of course, was the United Nations special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa from 2001-06.

The Stephen Lewis Foundation continues to support AIDS work in Africa, in part through the efforts of grandmothers in Canada, including Ottawa’s own ‘Grassroot Grannies.’ The local granny group came together 11 years ago, inspired after Lewis brought a number of African grandmothers to Toronto in 2006 to share their stories.

Clearly, the grandmas in both continents are formidable. In Africa, once they bury their own children from AIDS-related diseases, the grandmothers are left to raise their grandkids, feed, clothe and educate them.

In North America (also Australia and the UK), hundreds of ‘Grandmothers to Grandmothers’ groups have risen over the past decade in response. Canadian elders from 240 groups have raised $25 million in aid that goes directly to grandmothers in African countries.

When it comes to pitching in, Ottawa grandmothers are not getting........

© Ottawa Sun