Sunday, March 25, 2012, 11:30 AM
We are welcoming a guest speaker for this meetup, Jenny Neal. Jenny is part of Grandmothers for Grandmothers, a non-denominational organization dedicated to alleviating the plight of grandmothers in Africa as they care for children orphaned by the HIV/AIDS pandemic. They aim to increase awareness and motivate others to donate to the Stephen Lewis Foundation, which in turn provides support to African grandmothers and widows enabling them to develop income-generating activities to support themselves and provide the basic necessities for the many orphaned children in their care. If you don’t know much about Stephen Lewis, read more here. Jenny is especially involved with the Grandmothers Advocacy Network working on issues such as reform of the CAMR legislation by the Canadian government so that generic medicines can be sent to Africa.
We encourage everyone to make a donation to the Stephen Lewis Foundation (a secular, registered Canadian charity). If you’re able, they have a campaign to “Give a Day” – donate one day’s pay. Feel free to leave a comment on this event if you’ve made a donation (of any amount).
Jenny will outline the devastating impact HIV/AIDS has had on Sub-Saharan Africa and discuss some of the factors that have contributed to these high levels of infection. She will also talk about some of the positive developments that have recently taken place and the fact that it would be possible to live in an AIDS free world if only there were political will. Up to date statistical information is available at UN AIDS.
It seems that some solutions are working in some places and not in others – Africa is not homogenous. There is a history of economics (e.g. access to drugs), politics (e.g. AIDS denialism), religion (e.g. condom use) and myths (e.g. sex with a virgin will cure AIDS) interferring with the battle against HIV and AIDS in Africa. Interestingly, WHO/UNAIDS recommend that male circumcision be considered an efficacious intervention for HIV prevention in countries and regions with heterosexual epidemics, high HIV and low male circumcision prevalence.
Jenny recommends that everyone read 28 stories of AIDS in Africa by Stephanie Nolan. It combines personal stories of 28 very diverse people living in different countries in Africa and the impact AIDS has had on them. Every story also includes information on the situation in that country so the reader can learn a tremendous amount about all aspects of the disease.
I am a mother of three and a grandmother of four beautiful children. I spent most of my working life teaching Biology at the University of Saskatchewan. Since retirement I have become very involved with the Grandmothers 4 Grandmothers group here in Saskatoon. This group supports the work of the Stephen Lewis foundation (SLF) which funds over 300 projects in Sub – Saharan Africa. These projects support grandmothers and others living with HIV/AIDS and the orphans in their care. I have spent 4 separate years in Africa, in Kenya and Zimbabwe (when my children were young) and more recently 2 years in South Africa. Two years ago I was lucky enough to be chosen to go to South Africa and Swaziland with the SLF and 42 other grandmothers from all across Canada. We visited projects supported by the SLF and took part in a historic conference and March involving grandmothers from 15 different sub-Saharan African countries.
FYI: Dick Neal, who has spoken twice at our Darwin Day events is Jenny’s husband.