Wednesday, 17 February 2016 15:09

Grannies for Africa weaving positive social fabric through sale

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One hopes social fabric sews society together in its genuine compassion and empathy for others.


Medicine Hat’s Grannies for Africa are taking that importance of social fabric quite literally with regards to their philanthropy efforts for raising money to help grandmothers in Africa on behalf of the Grandmothers Campaign for the Stephen Lewis Foundation.
Grannies for Africa present the annual Fabric and More Sale at St. John’s Presbyterian Church (504-2nd St. S.E.) in Medicine Hat on March 12 from 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
The idea is for there to be fabric, yarns and even related items such as quilting hoops or sewing machines up for sale.
One of the organizers of the event, Joanie Gilchrist, is excited about this year’s possibilities. She explains the fabric is general quilting fabric and they try to sell it by the meter. They aren’t accepting upholstery fabric or sewing patterns. She says they have changed it up as they have reduced the number of hours the sale will run because by the late afternoon, traffic had slowed down completely. It wasn’t so slow early in the morning.
“It was nose to nose people; it was packed,” explains Gilchrist, the smile shining through the other end of the telephone line. She adds there was a line up to get in outside before the doors opened.
This is the fifth year for the event. Since Gilchrist became involved three years ago, it went from raising $300 to $1,200 until last year’s event where it raised $3,000.
Gilchrist says the fabric sale idea came from a Grandmothers’ chapter in Calgary.
According to the Stephen Lewis Foundation website, the Foundation “launched the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign in March 2006, in response to the emerging crisis faced by African grandmothers as they struggled to care for millions of children orphaned by AIDS. What began with only a few groups of committed Canadian grandmothers has since evolved into a dynamic and responsive movement, made up of grandmothers and grandmothers working to mobilize support in Canada for Africa’s grandmothers.”
The Campaign currently boasts more than 240 grandmothers groups across the country. Many of the groups have organized into regional and national networks in order to support each other’s efforts in solidarity with African grandmothers and the children in their care..
There are 20 “Grandmother” groups in Alberta. There’s one big Alberta gathering a year. Gilchrist says in 2015, it was in Lethbridge and featured a nurse and grandmother from Botswana. Gilchrist says they are enthusiastic about helping their fellow grandmothers as they are part of a special group.
The Hat Grannies for Africa were also hosting an information table at the Southeastern Teachers’ Association Convention at the Medicine Hat College to share information about their group and their upcoming events.
Anyone interested in volunteering, needing more information about the group or wanting to arrange a way to donate can phone Gilchrist at 403-526-9005 or Judy at 403-527-7090.

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Ryan Dahlman

Managing Editor