Raising funds with stories in the garden

Submitted by Val Swinton –

On the evening of June 19, One World Grannies teamed up with tellers from Ottawa StoryTellers to share the joys of getting older. The grandmother group is one of about 250 across Canada that works with the Stephen Lewis Foundation Grandmothers Campaign to raise awareness and funds to support grandmothers in sub-Saharan Africa. As a consequence of the AIDS pandemic, these elderly African women have buried their children and are caring for some 15 million young people left behind. In 12 years, Canadian grandmothers have raised $27 million for many initiatives, including school fees and housing.

For their latest fundraiser, sixty guests filled the shady Hinton Avenue garden of Val Swinton and Noel Lomer to enjoy stories, granny-made treats, and laughter.

[Click photos to enlarge.]

Mary Wiggin, a master of folk tales, launched the evening with “Three Strong Women,” an intergenerational Japanese story replete with the fantastic and subtle wit expected of the genre. Annie Creighton, an Ottawa grandmother, shifted the mood with her recounting of a recent visit to Uganda where she saw first-hand the hardships, courage and love of grandmothers raising scores of children. Stand-up comedy followed, with Peggy Edwards and Sandi London, both members of One World Grannies, exchanging jokes and stories for an audience vote on whether they were ageist, sexist or just plain funny. After a break for granny-made desserts and door prizes, Clive Doucet, Ottawa writer and former city councillor, shared memories of his Cape Breton grandfather and how that relationship enriched his role as a grandfather. Pat Holloway closed the program with “I Did It My Way,” a humorous chronicle of his youthful self, rebellious streak, and meeting the girl of his dreams.

Peggy Edwards, a co-founder of the One World Grannies who met with African grandmothers at the launch of the Grandmothers Campaign in 2006, recalls, that “after understanding the challenges these women face, doing nothing was not an option. We vowed not to rest until these courageous and spirited women could rest.” She adds: “We welcome ‘grand-others’ as well as grandmothers and have a ‘no guilt, have fun’ work ethic.”

“Our next big event is the GRAND Market at Lansdowne Park on November 25,” noted Sandi London, incoming co-chair, who also mentioned how proud Canadian grandmothers are that the Campaign received a 2018 Geneva Forum for Health Award.

The evening was sponsored by Watson’s Pharmacy and Compounding Centre. Printing was compliments of Allegra Printing (Carling Avenue); door prizes from Alice Hinther Designs, Ottawa StoryTellers, and Petit Bill’s Bistro, and beverages provided by McRae Street Bridgehead.

For more information about the Grandmothers Campaign go to grandmotherscampaign.org. To join a group or learn more about groups in the Ottawa region, contact vswinton2@icloud.com.

Valerie Swinton is current co-chair of One World Grannies.

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