With the birth of a healthy grand daughter I reflect on the differences in the care provided to mother and child. In Canada, the health of the mother and child is monitored from the moment of conception and on through the first year. In Africa, this is not so. 50% of children born HIV positive will die before they are two years old. In countries where an HIV positive mother receives anti-retroviral drugs to prevent vertical transmission, babies may be born healthy but without continued medications for the mother, she will die leaving an orphan child behind. I believe every child deserves the best opportunities in life and this inequity breaks my heart and motivates me in our work to make a difference.
We give pennies away without much thought - take a penny, leave a penny on counters everywhere. What's it worth? Not much -- but when one penny gets together with another and another, great things can be accomplished. With just 4400 pennies a child can attend school for a year in Zambia. A million pennies can set up a maize-grinding mill that will support 20 grandmothers and their families AND pay the annual operating costs for an ambulance.
If you have pennies to donate, we'll come and get them. If you'd like to collect pennies for us, we'll give you a jar!
So it is with our work. One woman can't do much but if two join and another and another, we can change the world.
"It goes on one at a time,
it starts when you care
to act, it starts when you do
it again after they said no,
it starts when you say WE
and know who you mean, and each
day you mean one more."
Excerpt from The Low Road by Marge Piercy copyright 2006 Middlemarsh, Inc.
A friend commented yesterday, "You must be very busy with your charity work." I gave her a quick rely, "Yes, we work very hard..." but since then I have been reflecting on the difference between charity and solidarity.
Charity is "a generous action or donation given to the poor" whereas solidarity is "a union arising from common responsibility and interests, a community of feeling and purposes." We do not take action in support of African grandmothers from a mindset of charity as in a donor/recipient relationship where the bounty of the donor is shared with a grateful recipient. Rather, we are the grateful ones -- grateful to be part of the triumph of the human spirit exemplified each day by African grandmothers; grateful for the opportunity to give meaning and shape to our days. We are grateful to act in sisterhood with each other and African grandmothers in nurturing the generation of children who are the future hope of Africa. This is our common responsibility, feeling and purpose. So the reply to the comment should have been, "Yes, we are very busy. Busy in solidarity on two continents. Join us!"
It's exciting to open email@example.com each day and read about artists who are entering work and groups who want to host Celebrating African Grandmothers. Everyone has fond memories of the stunning work, the response of the community and the awareness raised by Turning the Tide. "Can we have the show in September? " " Is the show available for February?" "I am going to do a soft sculpture." "I'm making a clay sculpture of the side view of a woman's head." "I'm painting." Artists and grandmother groups are getting on board from the BC Islands to the Prairies.
Canadian Quilter has asked for an article. Pacific Spirit Quilters want to know more! Sheryl Mackay from CBC's North by Northwest will emcee the gala auction. It's all coming together! Have you started your piece yet?
Royal City Gogos will be selling this gorgeous Kazuri jewelry at our Artisan Crafts for Africa on Saturday Nov. 3, 326 Twelfth Street, New Westminster from 10 am - 4 pm.
Kazuri offers hope and opportunity for Kenyan women who create ceramic beads in a Fair Trade workshop that was once a part of Karen von Blixen's coffee plantation. Kazuri means "small and beautiful." Its smooth finish and high gloss make it a pleasure to wear.
Selling Kazuri is a win/win for Royal City Gogos. Most of the money raised supports 350 Kenyans in the workshop affording them a fair wage and safe working conditions. The balance of the funds goes to the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign of the Stephen Lewis Foundation which works with community based organizations in sub Saharan Africa.
Now, will I buy the red this year or the bronze -- maybe the black and white?