How Ridge Meadows residents can help Sub-Saharan women fight AIDS pandemic

A campaign, Grandmothers for Grandmothers helps to raise awareness and funds for grandmothers who are caring for children orphaned by AIDS

A retired woman, Heather Crums, 69, is working in Ridge Meadows to support grandmothers in Sub-Saharan Africa, severely impacted by the HIV AIDS pandemic. 

A campaign, Grandmothers for Grandmothers founded by Stephen Lewis Foundation, helps to raise awareness and funds for grandmothers who are caring for millions of orphaned children by providing emotional and material support. 

Crums has been working with the charity Golden Ears Gogos since 2012 after her sister visited Africa. 

“I got involved a few years ago after my sister came back from Africa and said we should find a way to help women in the region and that is when I joined the Maple Ridge group founded by the Stephen Lewis Foundation,” she said. 

The organization members meet every second Wednesday of the month and currently have 20 to 25 active members, most of whom are seniors. 

“We raise funds in support of the campaign. Millions of grandmothers are raising their grandchildren after their own children were lost to AIDS. At my age, these grandmothers are raising a family again. And they don’t have the infrastructure we have in Canada, most don’t have rights to property.” 

The campaign has helped move to other issues that impact the lives of these women, Crums added. From more concrete issues such as school fees and clothing for children, they are moving into social justice issues such as the right to pension and property rights. 

Before the pandemic, Golden Ears Gogos was actively hosting a fundraising dinner of nearly 130 people. the pandemic changed that. has not deterred Crums and other members. 

After a market event last weekend, they are now gearing up for the pop-up sale where members from the organization will be selling baked goods, preserves, greeting cards as well as used books and puzzles to raise money for the campaign. 

“It’s a great way to stay connected with the community. Most of us are retired, it seems to be the case that people have more time and energy [to spare] when they are retired but there are no age restrictions to join the team.” 

She has stayed with the organization for nine years because the work they do is enjoyable and allows them to have a positive focus in life adding that they “will not rest until grandmothers in Africa can rest.” 

The Pop-Up Sale is on November 27 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Maple Ridge Seniors Center. 

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