Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Below is a article about Jane McBee a Winnipegger who will soon be on her way to Africa to visit projects started by the Stephen Lewis Foundation to help grandmothers who are left to raise their grandchildren, orphaned by the AIDS epidemic which took the lives of the children's parents, cope with their joyous burden. Joyous because the grandmothers are no doubt happy that they are around to take care of their grandchildren but a burden because many are old and have little resources for this huge task.
Stephen Lewis is a champion of these grandmothers and listening to him speak you know he is someone who cares about these women. He has singlehandedly brought the plight of the grandmothers to international attention.
What the article does not say is that the cost of the trip is not borne by the Foundation but by the grandmothers themselves. All the monies raised by the S.L. Foundation on behalf of the grandmothers are spent on projects to help them. Jane and the other 11 grandmothers chosen to go to African under the SL Foundation banner have to raise their own funds which can amount to some $7-8,000 to cover the cost of their trip and accommodation.
Jane is holding her first fundraiser on January 30th at the Forks Market 3rd floor.
It's $20 per person. Maiko Watson will be donating her service by singing a couple of songs.
If you can't make it on the 30th, you can always contact Enid at 253-0066 of Grands'n'More, the local group to which Jane belongs, with your donation.


Jane McBee will be going to Africa on a program of the Stephen Lewis Foundation called Grandmothers to Grandmothers. (C. PROCAYLO/SUN MEDIA)
Jane McBee says she always felt her life was leading up to something more, but the Winnipeg grandmother never knew what that something was.

Until now, that is.

McBee, 62, was chosen late last year by the Stephen Lewis Foundation to take a three-week educational trip to sub-Saharan Africa next month with 12 other grandmothers from across Canada.

Yesterday she told the Winnipeg Sun she feels the trip will fulfil her purpose.

"All the changes in my life have just happened," said McBee, who leaves on Feb. 25. "I just felt there was something else I needed to do and this is just something that's meant to be."

The trip is part of the foundation's Grandmothers to Grandmothers program, which works as a sort of exchange between Canadian grannies and those in underdeveloped regions of Africa.

McBee is scheduled to travel through Uganda, parts of South Africa and also Swaziland, where she and the other grandmothers will visit their African counterparts and see first-hand their hardships.

Grandmothers in those parts, McBee said, are often forced to bury their HIV-infected children and in turn raise their orphaned grandkids. Most of the time, she said, they do it with little or no resources.

"They're the life force of the children," she said. "And they do it with nothing."

Since the program launched 15 months ago, the grannies have collected more than $2 million already.

McBee said she fully realizes that the trip is no holiday.

"It will be a life-changing experience," she said.