Grand­moth­ers go­ing the dis­tance

South Shore Breaker - - Homes - SH­ERYL DUBOIS ed­i­[email protected]­breaker.ca

“Some peo­ple think HIV-AIDS has dis­ap­peared; it is not the case,” says Mar­i­lyn Sce­les, speak­ing specif­i­cally about sub-sa­ha­ran Africa. “It’s not go­ing to be erad­i­cated in one gen­er­a­tion.”

Sce­les is re­fer­ring to the mil­lions of Africans — fa­tal­i­ties of HIV-AIDS — who left a gen­er­a­tion of grand­moth­ers to care for their or­phaned grand­chil­dren. There are mil­lions of these chil­dren, ac­cord­ing to Sce­les, and many are also car­ry­ing the dis­ease.

“You can’t stop think­ing about how the grand­moth­ers have man­aged to over­come such tragedy be­cause you can imag­ine [the women in Africa] thought their chil­dren would be sup­port­ing them as they got older,” says Sce­les, but it did not turn out that way. In­stead, “they are par­ents again ... and with such bar­ri­ers to rais­ing these grand­chil­dren — food in­se­cu­rity, poor hous­ing and their grief,” adds Sce­les, not­ing of­ten a grand­mother is car­ing for grand­nieces, grand­nephews and chil­dren un­re­lated to them, all or­phaned as the re­sult of HIVAIDS.

Sce­les is a Bed­ford res­i­dent now re­tired and is an avid vol­un­teer and mem­ber of the Bed­ford con­tin­gent of Grand­moth­ers to Grand­moth­ers Cam­paign (or G2G as it is com­monly known).

G2G is part of the Stephen Lewis Foun­da­tion. Lewis, once a politi­cian and diplo­mat, founded the Stephen Lewis Foun­da­tion and since 2003, “... works with com­mu­nity-level or­ga­ni­za­tions which are turn­ing the tide of HIV & AIDS in Africa ...” notes the web­site, stephen­lew­is­foun­da­tion.org. The foun­da­tion launched G2G in 2006 “... in re­sponse to the emerg­ing cri­sis faced by African grand­moth­ers as they strug­gled to care for mil­lions of chil­dren or­phaned by AIDS,” ac­cord­ing to the G2G web­site, grand­moth­er­scam­paign.org. The fund­ing cre­ates op­por­tu­ni­ties for grand­moth­ers in Africa to gather and dis­cuss, sup­ports self-em­ploy­ment ini­tia­tives and pro­vides ed­u­ca­tional sup­plies, med­i­cal needs, hous­ing, bed­ding, HIVAIDS coun­selling, sup­port groups and more.

Sce­les says of the Bed­ford group, “mainly we have teas and lunches ... and we are very lucky that the Bed­ford Play­ers [the­atre group] do­nates tick­ets to us, which we can sell.”

Sce­les out­lined sev­eral rea­sons she stays with G2G as a vol­un­teer, in­clud­ing hav­ing “a sense of sat­is­fac­tion know­ing you are con­tribut­ing in some way to an in­ter­na­tional cause.” The Stephen Lewis Foun­da­tion also in­curs lim­ited ad­min­is­tra­tive costs with the “fund­ing go­ing di­rectly to the pro­ject it is ear­marked for.”

More­over, Sce­les ap­plauds the way the foun­da­tion looks at suc­cess by in­cor­po­rat­ing mea­sures of “so­cial, psy­cho­log­i­cal and emo­tional” progress. They ask ques­tions such as the fol­low­ing: Are grand­moth­ers deal­ing with their grief bet­ter? Are they ex­press­ing their thoughts and emo­tions more freely? Are they start­ing to dream and plan again? Are they smil­ing or laugh­ing?

The G2G groups are open to “grandothers,” says Sce­les. “Grandothers are peo­ple that do not have grand­chil­dren,” but be­lieve in the pur­pose of the or­ga­ni­za­tion

ce­les notes the group in the St. Mar­garets Bay area was one of the first G2G groups in the At­lantic prov­inces and that other groups through­out HRM work ex­tremely hard to raise funds. Bear River, Bed­ford, Dart­mouth, Fall River, Hal­i­fax, Head of Jed­dore, Lunen­berg, Sackville, Up­per Tan­tallon and Wolfville all have G2G groups and are look­ing for new mem­bers.

“The im­por­tant thing,” Sce­les says, “is con­tin­ual fundrais­ing ....” Sce­les says that along with help­ing grand­moth­ers meet ba­sic needs, the pro­gram em­pow­ers the grand­moth­ers to be ac­tive in other ar­eas, such as or­ga­niz­ing in prepa­ra­tion of voic­ing their needs to their gov­ern­ments.

G2G groups from HRM down to Lunen­burg will get to­gether to have one huge fab­ric and yarn sale in April 2019. For more in­for­ma­tion about G2G groups in Nova Sco­tia, call BJ Kirby at 902-266-5188.

Sh­eryl Dubois

Around the ta­ble are mem­bers of the Bed­ford Grand­moth­ers to Grand­moth­ers Cam­paign (G2G) group meet­ing at Scott Manor House. From left: Corinne Macdon­ald, Julie Ir­win, Joan John­ston, Brideen Mor­gan, Penny St-amand, Bar­bara Haysom and Diana Hay­don with Mar­i­lyn Sce­les and Barb Macey stand­ing.

123RF

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