Grandmothers of Prince Albert unite for African women

Jason Kerr
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The Prince Albert chapter of Grandmothers for Grandmothers held a “Heart to Heart” tea and fundraiser on Saturday afternoon.

Patrons of Saturday’s Grandmothers to Grandmothers Tea admire pieces of jewelry made by women in a fair trade factory in Kenya. 

The 34-member group hosted the event to help educate people about the difficulties women in Africa face.

“We have so much in Canada and it’s only right that we should be aware of the needs of people in other countries,” Grandmothers for Grandmothers president Monica Bayda says.  “We can’t just be selfish and live in our own little nirvana land.”

Besides selling tickets for the tea, the organization also sold jewelry made by women in a fair-trade factory in Kenya.  In addition to paying higher wages than averag, this factory is important because it exists to employ single mothers, as well as grandmothers who are the sole breadwinner for their grandchildren.

Bayda says many people were surprised to learn about the factory and how it worked.

“I know some ladies were here today that said to me, ‘we learned a lot’ and even just (in) the very short presentation,” she says.

The proceeds from tickets sold for the tea were also donated.  The recipient was the Stephen Lewis Foundation, which helped launch the Grandmothers for Grandmothers national organization back in 2006.  The foundation is known for supporting charitable causes, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.

“We are really a global village now,” Bayda says.  “It’s brought (home) to us every day on the television.  We know what’s going on and we cannot be selfish.”

Organizers said they were satisfied with the turnout for the event, which took place at the Mann Art Gallery.  Event co-ordinator Beth Bodnar described it as “wonderful.”

“We had a sell-out three weeks ahead of time, so we were really pleased,” she says.

Grandmothers for Grandmothers is a non-denominational and non-political organization.  Despite their name, their membership is not limited to grandmothers.  It’s open to women who don’t have grandchildren, or children.  Even men are allowed to join.

However, the primary focal point continues to be women helping women.

“I live in a society where women have their rights,” Bayda says.  “Yes, somebody did fight for our rights a long time ago, but we do have all these rights.  Now it’s our turn to help the African women achieve those rights.”

Bayda says they plan to hold more events in the future with a similar focus.  She says they’re always willing to help people learn about the lives of women in Africa.

“It would be impossible in this modern technological society to not be aware of the needs of people around the world, but sometimes we sort of turn our heads away,” she says.  “We kind of look the other way and say it’s not our problem, that’s their problem, but it is our problem because if we have a better society in Africa it’s better for everybody, no matter what.”

Organizations: Prince Albert, Stephen Lewis Foundation, Grandmothers for Grandmothers Mann Art Gallery

Geographic location: Africa, Canada, Kenya

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