On April 15, North Saanich grandmother Elizabeth Sebesta will sit down with thousands of other grandmothers across Canada, Africa and beyond for a virtual concert celebrating their work on AIDS.
She is part of Grandmothers to Grandmothers, a campaign launched in 2006 to connect grandmothers in Canada with those in Africa who are taking care of children orphaned by AIDS. Here, the over 100 Victoria Grandmothers for Africa are known for their annual cycle tour, which has raised close to $1.5 million to date.
The concert is a celebration of solidarity and will feature an entirely Canadian roster of musicians, dancers, storytellers and drummers. They include singer and actress Jackie Richardson, former Barenaked Ladies member Steven Page, singer-songwriter David Myles, The National Ballet of Canada, author and poet Sheree Fitch, Prince George musician Kym Gouchie and the Stratford Festival Players.
It’s a free event, but the Grandmothers Campaign is hoping people will choose to donate.
|Elizabeth Sebesta (centre) sits among hundreds of Canadian and African grandmothers at a gathering in Toronto in 2006, ahead of the 16th International AIDS Conference. (Credit: Alexis MacDonald)|
Elizabeth Sebesta joined the movement over 10 years ago and, in 2018, was lucky enough to travel to Uganda and Tanzania to meet some of the grandmothers in person.
“One grassroots group we visited showed us the house they’d built of homemade bricks, the school they support, and a table-banking meeting where grandmothers lend and borrow among themselves – a whole range of projects,” Sebesta said, recalling the trip.
This is what she loves about the Grandmothers campaign – it doesn’t tell African grandmothers what they need, simply works to fund the needs they identify.
“We fundraise for them, we tell others about them, and we stand in solidarity with one another and with them,” Sebesta said.
The 90-minute concert airs at 4:30 p.m. April 15, but will be available to watch at cdngrandmothers.com for three days after.
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