A grandmother’s love is the same across the globe

Growing up in South Africa, Barb Phillips witnessed the poverty in her home country.

Growing up in South Africa, Barb Phillips witnessed the poverty in her home country.

Though she lived in relative privilege herself, it’s something she still sees whenever she returns home: “A grandmother in her late 70s in a hut with no running water with maybe four or six or eight grandchildren,” she says as an example.

“She has to try and scrape to find the money to send them to school.”

The Stephen Lewis Foundation estimates that 11.6 million African children have been orphaned because their parents have died from complications related to AIDS.

In many cases, grandmothers, who have just buried their own children, step in to fill the gap.

It’s clearly a daunting task. But grandmothers from across Canada are stepping forward to help.

The foundation’s Grandmothers to Grandmothers campaign raises money to support their African counterparts who are caring for young children whose parents have died from complications of AIDS.

For the last six years the Yukon group, which Phillips is a part of, has been the most northern chapter.

On Oct. 26 the group will be hosting an art sale as their latest fundraiser.

The money they earn will go to the Stephen Lewis Foundation to be used for projects likes counselling, HIV testing, business skills workshops, micro-credit loans and support groups.

“I’m involved in supporting a lot of different organizations but particularly this one because of the work that Stephen Lewis has done,” said Sharon Westberg.

“You know that real work is happening and the money is going where it’s needed. Whether it’s kids here or kids in Africa, it’s still human beings around the world that need help.”

The local art sale will be selling pieces from the estate of Rene Carlson, who died in April.

The long-time Yukoner had a vast collection including paintings, prints and Inuit soapstone carvings from around the North.

After discussions with Carlson’s family, the group agreed to host the sale and take a commission.

Carlson sometimes attended Grandmothers to Grandmothers herself and would volunteer whenever she could.

The sale is something she would approve of, friends say.

“She would be very thrilled about something like this. She would like her art to go to local people who love it,” said Audrey McLaughlin.

The collection is made up of hundreds of items and is appraised at a total of $54,000.

It includes things like a hand-beaded baby belt, a variety of dolls, carvings, and original prints from artists like Jim Logan and Jim Robb.

About three years ago McLaughlin, a former chair of the Yukon group, travelled to South Africa and Swaziland with 43 representatives from chapters around Canada.

They met with more than 2,000 grandmothers from different countries around Africa.

None of the women were asking for cash, she said. They were all interested in how to make money.

“These are women, despite their age, who want to be self-sufficient.”

She witnessed one program where bed sheets were being handed out. When the group returned the bed sheets were gone.

It turns out the locals had been using them as shrouds to cover dead bodies.

“I think no matter where you are, we’re pretty privileged people. I think we have a responsibility, I think we all feel that, both locally and globally,” said McLaughlin.

The Yukon group has a mailing list of about 80 people they can call on for help – both grandmothers and not.

The core group of seven are all familiar faces who volunteer around the territory. With more than 40 grandchildren between them, they also know what it’s like to care for a grandchild that you love.

“I think it also came from me, just having my own grandchildren. Just trying to look after my grandchildren for a day, I find it exhausting,” Phillips said.

The whole room chuckles, but no one disagrees.

“I just find it so exhausting. I think, how on earth could you have six kids in a mud hut with no running water… and no money.”

The Grandmothers to Grandmothers art sale takes place Oct. 26 from 1 to 7 p.m. at the Westmark Whitehorse.

Contact Ashley Joannou at

ashleyj@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health, speaks to media at a press conference about COVID-19 in Whitehorse on March 30. The Yukon government announced three new cases of COVID-19 in Watson Lake on Oct. 23. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Three new COVID-19 cases identified in Watson Lake

The Yukon government has identified three locations in town where public exposure may have occurred

Teagan Wiebe, left, and Amie Wiebe pose for a photo with props during The Guild’s haunted house dress rehearsal on Oct. 23. The Heart of Riverdale Community Centre will be hosting its second annual Halloween haunted house on Oct. 30 and 31, with this year’s theme being a plague. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Plague-themed haunted house to take over Heart of Riverdale for Halloween

A plague will be descending upon the Heart of Riverdale Community Centre… Continue reading

Indigenous lobster boats head from the harbour in Saulnierville, N.S. on Oct. 21. Elected officials in the Yukon, including all 19 members of the legislature, are backing the right of Mi’kmaq fishers on the East Coast to launch a moderate livelihood fishery. (Andrew Vaughan/CP)
Yukon legislature passes motion to support Mi’kmaw fishery

“It’s not easy, but it’s also necessary for us to have these very difficult conversations”

A pedestrian passes by an offsales sandwich board along Fourth Avenue in Whitehorse on Oct. 22. NDP MLA Liz Hanson raised concerns Oct. 21 in the legislature about increased hospitalizations due to alcohol consumption that correlate with an extension in the hours alcohol can be sold in the territory. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Alcohol-related hospitalizations rise after off-sales hours extended

Reduced hours for off-sale liquor establishments likely part of Liquor Act spring reforms

Tourism and Culture Minister Jeanie McLean (formerly Dendys) speaks during legislative assembly in Whitehorse on Nov. 27, 2017. The Yukon government has announced $2.8 million in tourism relief funding aimed at businesses in the accommodation sector that have already maxed out existing funds. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Tourism relief funding offers $2.8 million to hotels and overnight accommodations

$15 million in relief funding is planned for the tourism sector over the next three years

The Yukon government is asking for all claims in a lawsuit over the Takhini elk herd be struck by the court. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Yukon government asks for Takhini elk lawsuit to be struck

The Yukon government is asking for all claims in a lawsuit over… Continue reading

The Yukon government has filed a reply to an outfitter’s petition challenging the reduction of its caribou quota to zero. (Yukon News file)
YG replies to outfitter’s legal challenge over caribou quota

The Yukon government has filed a reply to an outfitter’s petition challenging… Continue reading

The Yukon government is encouraging people to get the flu vaccine this year, saying that with COVID-19, it’s “more important than ever.” (Black Press file)
Get flu vaccine, Yukon government urges

The Yukon government is encouraging people to get the flu vaccine this… Continue reading

Benjamin Munn, 12, watches the HPV vaccine in 2013. Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine will be available to all Yukoners up to, and including, age 26. Currently the program is only available to girls ages nine to 18 and boys ages nine to 14. (Dan Bates/Black Press file)
HPV vaccine will be available to Yukoners up to, including, age 26

Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine will be available… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

asdf
COMMENTARY: Me and systemic racism

The view from a place of privilege

asdf
Today’s mailbox: Electricity and air travel

Letters to the editor published Oct. 23, 2020

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Irony versus Climate

Lately it seems like Irony has taken over as Editor-in-Chief at media… Continue reading

Most Read