Art show to benefit African grandmothers

Cranbrook's Go Go Grannies to host an art show that benefits grandmothers in Africa dealing with the fallout from the AIDS epidemic.

Next weekend Cranbrook’s Go Go Grannies will be hosting an art show that benefits grandmothers in Africa dealing with the fallout from the AIDS epidemic.

“African grandmothers are raising a whole generation of grandchildren because their parents have died of AIDS,” said Norma Juozaitis, a member of the local Go Go Grannies. “These women bury their own children and then look after their orphaned grandchildren.”

This art display will celebrate their lives. Juozaitis said the show displays their resilience and their work to create a safer and brighter future.

The show is Friday Nov. 22. from 2-8 and Saturday, Nov. 23 from 10-4 at Christ Church Anglican located at 46 – 13th Avenue South, Cranbrook.

The Go Go Grannies are hosting the 40-piece art show that was selected by a jury.

“It’s a mixed-media art show that provides a window to the world of Sub-Saharan African grandmothers,” she said. Admission is by donation.

The show is travelling through Alberta and the Cranbrook show is the first stop as it travels through B.C. From there, it will travel to Penticton and Gibson before heading back to the Lower Mainland.

Admission for the show is by donation and there will be crafts made by grannies for sale.

The Go Go Grannies fundraises for the Stephen Lewis Foundation, which in 2006 started the Grandmothers to Grandmothers campaign.

The funds raised from this event go to the foundation, which ends up in the hands of African grandmothers.

“One thing that I like about the association is it’s not a blanket approach,” she said. “Staff of the Stephen Lewis Foundation actually go into individual villages, meet with individual grandmothers and find out what that grandmother needs and meet that need. Sometimes it might be an addition to their shack, it might be a sewing machine, it might be chickens. It’s done on a grandmother level.”

The African grandmothers are also very involved in AIDS education and part of the funding goes towards continuing that education.

“It’s a very personal approach,” she said.

The community based programs can provide grandmothers with food and help them with health care and school fees. In many African communities children can’t go to school without uniforms. It can also provide counselling, social support, income generation or whatever suits the need of that grandmother.

Juozaitis said the show is categorized into four parts: Loss and Despair, Compassion, Strength in Community and Hope at the Grassroots. She noted the artwork at the show is fantastic.

The Cranbrook Go Go Grannies have been meeting since 2007 and have around 50 local women involved.

“The best part about belonging to a grandmothers group is that we can make it anything we want,” Juozaitis said. “We don’t even have to be grandmothers. There is no formula on how to fundraise – we are just women who love to spend time together and are passionate about what we can do to make a difference in the lives of African grandmothers. Each of us brings different skills to the group. We’re always looking for new members.”

They meet the last Monday of the month at 7 p.m. at the Superstore community room, which is their new meeting spot.

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