Grandmother Network Strong Force in HIV/AIDS Efforts, HIV Advocate Lewis Says
The network "Grandmothers 4 Grandmothers" in Regina, Canada -- the local effort of the Stephen Lewis Foundation's network of grandmother organizations called Grandmothers to Grandmothers -- has "emerged as a force to be reckoned with" among the 70,000 Canadians supporting the foundation, the Regina Leader-Post reports.
Lewis, chair of the foundation and head of AIDS-Free World, at a recent Grandmothers 4 Grandmothers fundraising event said grandmothers "have become the most auspicious, most formidable, most loyal and most overwhelming" advocates against HIV/AIDS. The group has brought grandmothers from across Canada together to contribute to efforts to address HIV/AIDS among women in Africa. According to Lewis, the group of grandmothers has become a core aspect of his foundation, raising more than $6 million and becoming active participants in lobbying efforts. In addition, they have helped educate and recruit new participants, adding to the current list of 10,000 grandmothers in more than 200 chapters nationwide.
Lewis said, "[Y]ou cannot imagine the grandmothers in Africa, how overwhelmed they are, that in a country they know nothing of, there are all these grandmothers who are supporting them and working with them." While Lewis said he appreciates the grandmothers' efforts, he also hopes fundraising events will begin to have a larger focus on "understand[ing]" HIV/AIDS in Africa. He noted that the treatment of HIV/AIDS in Africa remains "criminally incremental" and progress in fighting the disease remains slow. He also pointed to new challenges, including an increase in the number of tuberculosis cases; drought; food shortages; and economic crises that are causing many governments to back-track on funding commitments. The Leader-Post reports that the foundation plans to raise $100 million over the next five years for HIV/AIDS efforts in Africa (Pruden, Leader-Post, 5/11).