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Grannies supporting grandmothers

SEAN CHASE sean.chase@sunmedia.ca

SEAN CHASE

sean.chase@sunmedia.ca

PETAWAWA - The Petawawa Grannies hosted its GranAfrican Dinner Wednesday evening, asking the community to support African grandmothers and the orphaned children in their care.

A meal of unique African dishes was served at the Royal Canadian Branch 517 with 150 people sampling food they've never tasted before.

"We're raising money for the grandmothers in Africa who are looking after their grandchildren because their parents have died from AIDS," explained Esther Gaudet, advocacy representative and event organizer.

All proceeds from the night went to the Stephen Lewis Foundation, which launched the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign in 2006 to raise awareness, build solidarity and mobilize funds for Africa's grandmothers and the orphans in their care.

It has since evolved into a movement of some 300 grandmother groups across Canada - more than 5,000 women who support this cause. They have collectively raised $12 million over the past six years for their African counterparts.

The money raised will go directly to support grassroots projects in Africa to fulfill the immediate needs of food, transportation, home visits, medical care, adequate housing and bedding, school fees and uniforms for orphans. Since 2003, the foundation has funded more than 300 projects in 15 countries.

"They provide the money right at the community level," said Ms. Gaudet.

The menu included Ugali, a form of cornmeal, Mboga kitoweo, a vegetarian stew, Ethiopian beef curry, sweet potato biscuits, chicken joloff, African black-eyed peas, greens, steamed rice, fresh fruit and salad.

Organizers had so far raised $2,000 through ticket sales but hoped to match that with a silent auction. Entertainment was later provided by the Valley Harmonizers, directed by Barry Stevens.

Ms. Gaudet said the 20-member group was pleased with the turnout.

"People are happy they can do their little bit to help," she said adding there is a message to the charity's efforts. "It's a message to try and help those people who are suffering in Africa and who can't afford the drugs to save their lives."

Sean Chase is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist