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AfriGrand Caravan: Home stretch out West

November 5, 2010

The AfriGrand Caravan is in Vancouver today! With less than a week left in the Caravan (the last event is in Victoria on Wednesday, November 10), here are two great news stories about Caravan events in British Columbia featuring Thandeka Motsa and Tsabile Simelane of SWAPOL in Swaziland.

AIDS caravan visits city

Thandeka Motsa, left, and Tsabile Simelane.

Metro Vancouver

By Sarah N. Fitzgerald

A caravan of young AIDS orphans and grandmothers arrived in Vancouver on Friday at the end of a two-month tour of Canada.

The Stephen Lewis Foundation AfriGrand Caravan is in the Lower Mainland to generate awareness about the HIV-AIDS pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa.

The goal of the campaign is to dispel three major myths surrounding the virus: nothing ever changes, aid is ineffective, and Africans are unable to help themselves.

Swaziland’s Tsabile Victoria Simelane takes care of 30 orphans and coordinates local HIV-AIDS support groups.

“With the support of … grassroots level foundations, we are going to see a change,” said Simelane.

AfriGrand Caravan coming to the Valley

Visitors will share challenges of HIV crisis in Africa

Comox Valley Echo

“Grandmothers Stand Up! Granddaughters Speak Out! Communities Take Action!”

This is the call that heralds the arrival of the historical cross-Canada tour of the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s AfriGrand Caravan when it stops in Courtenay on Tuesday, November 9.

We shall have a unique opportunity to hear firsthand from African Grandmother, Tsabile Victoria Simelane and teenaged granddaughter, Thandeka Carol Motswa, when they speak to us of their challenges in dealing with the crisis of HIV/AIDS unfolding in sub-Saharan Africa.

The AfriGrand Caravan left St John’s Newfoundland on September 7 and is stopping in 40 towns and cities across Canada, ending up in Victoria on November 10.

This Caravan is a response to the outpouring of concern, compassion and commitment of Canadians who have raised approximately 10 million dollars over the past 4 years for the Grandmother to Grandmother Campaign, inspired by Stephen Lewis. The hosts of this Caravan visit are the Merville Grand Mothers and the Glacier Grannies, two of more than 240 grandmother groups working across Canada to support African Grandmothers caring for their grandchildren in the wake of the AIDS pandemic, by raising funds for the Stephen Lewis Foundation.

The AfriGrand Caravan provides an opportunity for us to hear directly from those at the heart of community-based efforts to turn the tide of AIDS in Africa. Caravans are a time-honoured way of bringing events to town, generating momentum along the way.

Everyone is invited to the evening presentation, organized by the Merville Grand Mothers.

We shall hear from Tsabile Simelane, a grandmother taking care of 30 orphans in her community. Tsabile is a dynamic speaker who advocates for access to treatment for people living with HIV and AIDS, through the community-based organization, Swaziland Positive Living (SWAPOL).

We shall also hear from Thandeka Motswa, 19, head of her household in Swaziland, where she provides care for her three siblings. At the age of 12, Thandeka’s mother died of AIDS. As the primary caregiver to her siblings, Thandeka had to frequently miss school. She eventually was forced to drop out of school because she could not afford school fees. At present, she is earning a small income as a hairdresser and receives some support from SWAPOL, one of the community-based organizations supported by the Stephen Lewis Foundation.

This event takes place in the Ballroom at the Best Western Westerly Hotel & Convention Centre in Courtenay. The presentation begins at 7 p.m., doors open at 6:30, and admission is by donation.

During the afternoon, the Caravan team, which includes a staff person from the Stephen Lewis Foundation, will hold a forum with high school and North Island College students at Mark Isfeld School.

Local support for this event has been tremendous; notably the Best Western Westerly Hotel is generously donating the venue for the evening event. On the same day, the Comox Glacier Grannies will be displaying the textile art exhibit, entitled “Turning the Tide; One Ripple at a Time” at the same location. The exhibit is open to the public from 1 pm to 7 pm in the Glacier Room, Westerly Hotel.

In addition, The Letz Sing Choir is holding a fundraising community sing, open to everyone, on Friday, November 5 at 7:30 p.m. in the hall of St John the Divine Church, 579 5th St. Proceeds will go the Stephen Lewis Foundation, $10 or donation at the door.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Marianne permalink
    November 6, 2010 11:28 AM

    I attended the Afrigrand Caravan last night at John Oliver Secondary and was so moved by the presentation by Gogo and Thandeka. Thank you so much for coming to Canada to spread the word! We must all do our part to help our African sisters and brothers. Blessings be upon you always for the work you do.

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