Grandmothers in Winnipeg are committed to helping their fellow matriarchs — even ones half a world away.
The fourth annual Stride to Turn the Tide walk will take place on June 7 at Grant Park Mall, where close to 100 people will be taking part in the event to raise awareness of grandmothers in sub-Saharan Africa who are caring for their AIDS-orphaned grandchildren.
The walk is being organized by Grands ’n’ More, a local group of 125 or so members with a goal of bringing awareness and raising funds for the Stephen Lewis Foundation.
Lewis, a former special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa with the United Nations, started the foundation after his five-year role in Africa as special envoy.
"He saw the incredible devastation that was going on there," said Jean Altemeyer, co-ordinator for the Stride walk in Winnipeg. "He came back and said to his friends and family that something needed to be done. So they started the Stephen Lewis Foundation with the slogan, ‘Easing the Pain.’"
The foundation works with community-level organizations, such as Grands ’n’ More, which is turning the tide of HIV/AIDS in Africa by providing care and support to women, orphaned children, grandmothers and people living with HIV and AIDS.
"There are now about 250 grandmother groups across Canada," says Altemeyer. "They do the same thing in their communities but it can be wildly different depending on their situations.
"About five years ago a group of grannies in Calgary came up with the idea of a walk and asked if other people would be interested in doing this. So for a couple weekends in June groups all across the country hold various activities all across the country called Stride to Turn the Tide. We are one of those groups."
Grands ’n’ More has also partnered with Canadian Footwear. Participants in the event as well as the general public can drop off shoes, which will then be refurbished and distributed to local homeless shelters in Winnipeg.
The event will be flanked by activities as well as setups from some of the mall’s tenants, who are doing their part to make the event a success.
"We will kick it off with dancing for the grandmothers, a Zumba-style thing," Altemeyer says. "There will be a variety of displays and activities with information about our group, the Stephen Lewis Foundation and specific information about how far grandmothers in sub-Saharan Africa have to walk to get water, or to get kids to school.
"David’s Tea will be out in the courtyard with samples of rooibos, an African tea, after the Zumba event. The Source is also donating a sound system for the event and McNally Robinson will be putting up a book display with books about Africa and we will be setting up one of our tables in their store."
Registration starts at 10 a.m. with the walk to follow at 11 a.m. through to 1 p.m. Cost for the event is $5 for participants over the age of 12. For more information on the event, visit http://www.grandmotherscampaign.org/ai1ec_event/winnipeg-stride?instance_id=1103