Local benefit celebrates women in the arts

Gramma-Link Africa hosting ‘Mosaic Muse’

GrammaLink-Africa is gearing up to host the second annual Mosaic Muse – a Celebration of Women in the Arts.

Funds raised at the event, which runs May 1 at Sunnybrook United Church, go to support grandmothers in Africa who are struggling to raise youngsters often orphaned because of AIDS stricken parents.

It’s all part of the Grandmothers to Grandmothers campaign, spearheaded by the Stephen Lewis Foundation. The campaign was launched in 2006.

Since the launch, some 240 groups of Canadian grandmothers have taken up the call to action. To date, the campaign has raised more than $10 million for African grandmothers and the children in their care.

Locally, GrammaLink — Africa was launched a few years back with Shirley Challoner and Dorothy Hryniuk essentially leading the humanitarian charge.

Mosaic Muse gets underway with a silent auction at 2 p.m. followed by a concert featuring several local artists at 2:30 p.m.

Set to hit the stage are prairie songstress Donna Durand with Teresa Neuman, Haeley Ginter and Mandy McKee. City Councillor Tara Veer will be emceeing the event.

The goal is to provide a fun afternoon that not only entertains but also educates folks about the ongoing need for financial support, said Chris Hume, a local committee member of Gramma-Link Africa.

There will also be a display of selected art, refreshments, ‘celebrity’ scarves donated by Roberta Bondar and CBC’s Wendy Mesley and more to check out.

Organizers say the funds raised go a long way to making a difference in the lives of grandmothers struggling to raise youngsters in a land often wracked with poverty.

According to statistics from the Foundation, some 13 million children have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.

Grandparents – particularly grandmothers – care for around 40% of all orphans in the United Republic of Tanzania, 45% in Uganda, more than 50% in Kenya, and around 60% in Namibia and Zimbabwe.

Evidence also shows that poverty rates in households with elderly people are up to 29% higher than in households without. Elderly women who assume responsibility for family members affected by HIV/AIDS are often forced to work longer hours and sell personal possessions and household assets in order to pay for medicines, health care and funeral costs.

Meanwhile, here at home, Hume said newcomers are always welcome at the Gramma-Link Africa monthly meetings. For more information about meeting dates and times, call Hume at 403-347-2776.

Admission to Mosaic Muse is $15 with tickets available at Comforts the Sole, at the door or by calling Chris Hume at the above number or Shirley Challoner at 403-347-5958.

Check out www.stephenlewisfoundation.org.