On Nov. 9, the Chris Harris Gallery hosted a book launch for Powered By Love written by Joanna Henry and photography by Alexis MacDonald.
Henry and MacDonald, part of the Stephen Lewis Foundation, travelled through eight different African countries interviewing grandmothers, who were left to look after their grandchildren who were orphaned by the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
“What happened in Africa, is entire villages’ and areas’ parental generations were completely wiped out so you had entire villages where the only people left were children and elderly people,” explains book launch organizer Rita Giesbrecht, who says the HIV/AIDS epidemic was allowed to carry on uncontrolled.
“It has to do with the co-modification of AIDS drugs and the lack of awareness and motivation to do anything about AIDS in Africa at a political level, internationally.”
One of the reasons Giesbrecht choose the book for the launch was the South Cariboo’s connection to the Stephen Lewis Foundation.
The Stephen Lewis Foundation was founded in 2003 by the prominent Canadian, who served the United Nations special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa from 2001-06.
In his role, he campaigned and raised money to combat as well as bring international attention and awareness to the disease.
One of the steps the foundation took was establishing the Grandmothers to Grandmothers movement in 2006.
The first international gathering was held in Toronto. At this conference, the group issued the Toronto Declaration, a message of solidarity between grandmothers in the developed world and in Africa.
There are currently 240 groups according to the campaign’s website.
“Some people might not realize we had an active chapter [Gold Rush Grannies] who functioned for quite a bit of time and disbanded,” said Giesbrecht.
“We have a very strong presence for the Grandmothers to Grandmothers and the Stephen Lewis Foundation in the South Cariboo Area due to the work those women did in the past.”
The chapter, fronted by Wendy Hamblin disbanded in 2015, but the group raised more than $50,000 for the cause.
The book is available for purchase at the Chris Harris Gallery and the sales support the foundation and Grandmothers to Grandmothers campaign.