When Janet retired two years ago, she moved to Peterborough to support her daughter and four young grandchildren – and to be closer to her elderly mother.
Maintaining a link with Africa was also important to her, and G2G seemed the perfect fit. An initiative of the Stephen Lewis Foundation (SLF), a large Canadian NGO, grandmother groups began to form in 2006. They raise funds to support grandmothers in sub-Saharan Africa struggling with the effects of AIDS on their families.
Having lost their children to the disease, many African grandmothers must raise their grandchildren. According to UNAIDS, a United Nations program devoted to prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS victims, about 15 million AIDS orphans now live in sub-Saharan Africa – nearly twice the population of New York City. The cause spoke to Siddall.
"[They] have exactly the same aspirations as we Canadian grandmothers," but with just a fraction of the resources, she says. The African grandmothers must start parenting all over again – as well as care for themselves. They assume responsibility for feeding, housing, and schooling their grandchildren.
Their plight has struck a chord with Canadian grandmothers. In just five years, 240 chapters of G2G have sprung up across the country and raised $12 million (Canadian; US$12.4 million) to help.
Siddall's branch of G2G thrives on the generosity and pluck of its members. It has no budget. Siddall has organized a potluck dinner that raised $2,500 (Canadian). She also headed up a local "Stride to Turn the Tide" walk that raised $6,000.
This group of retired teachers, community workers, nurses, and a former ambassador isn't likely to be found sitting by the fire reading a book, says Ms. Martin. "We're from the '60s generation. We don't take anything lying down," she says of her group's determination to support Africa's AIDS-ravaged families.