The Niagara Nyanyas are excited to once again offer their spring luncheon, which was an annual fundraising tradition until pandemic restrictions cancelled it for two years.
They will welcome two new representatives from the Stephen Lewis Foundation as their guest speakers, who will talk about how the foundation works with their partners in Sub-Saharan Africa, and share stories of the triumph and resilience of grandmothers and communities in the face of the AIDS pandemic and the COVID pandemic.
Terry Mactaggart, one of the founders of the Nyanyas (Swahili for grandmother), says COVID, and the lack of events and fundraisers, have made their efforts to keep up awareness of their grandmother campaign a challenge.
The Stephen Lewis Foundation launched the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign in 2006, in response to the crisis faced by grandmothers in Africa as they struggled to raise their grandchildren orphaned by AIDS. There are now more than 240 groups supporting African grandmothers.
For the last two years and more, Africa has been fighting two pandemics, AIDS and COVID, Mactaggart says.
“That’s the horror of it all. They were really impacted by COVID. But they have such resilience,” she says.
Ruth-Anne Seburn, the development officer with the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign, has worked for several non-profits in Canada, Sri Lanka and New York City.
Alanna Wallace is the deputy director of philanthropic partnerships at the foundation, overseeing the organization’s corporate partnership program and community campaigns, including the Grandmothers to Grandmothers campaign. Wallace and Seburn will speak to those at the Nyanyas luncheon, at the Old Winery Restaurant Friday, June 3, at 12:30 p.m.
“It feels like coming home,” says Mactaggart — the last couple of very successful luncheons were also held at the Old Winery.
The Grandmothers groups are also carrying on with a national effort that staged a virtual concert across Canada during COVID, raising more than $150,000.
“That was quite amazing,” Mactaggart said. “There were a lot of grandmothers who worked on that and wanted to stay together, and to work on another project.”
They are looking at a project on diversity, inclusivity, recruitment and retention, to build up groups that have lost members during the pandemic, some of which folded.
“We all really want to get some new people back.”
Many of the grandmothers have died, or are not continuing, she said.
In Africa, grandmothers have also died, and Mactaggart says many of the grandchildren, now adults, are starting their own women’s movement.
Tickets for the June luncheon are available by email at: [email protected]
All tickets must be purchased in advance.