• James Armstrong

Justice on the front-lines of the HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa comes to Hudson


PHOTO COURTESY ALEXIS MACDONALD - THE STEPHEN LEWIS FOUNDATION

Mariam Malindwa, a community group leader from Uganda, was one of many participants in the 2013 People’s Tribunal held in Vancouver, B.C.

The documentary film African Grandmother’s Tribunal from the Stephen Lewis Foundation (SLF) will be shown at the Stephen F. Shaar Community Center in Hudson Saturday, May 14, at 7:30 p.m.

Hosted by Hudson’s Grannies Aid for Africa group, the film focuses on the 2013 People’s Tribunal held in Vancouver, B.C. that provided a public arena for African grandmothers to voice their human rights claims.

“The SLF invited women leaders from the African grandmothers’ community to come and speak about the human rights issues that impeded their lives,” said Dolores Meade, the MC for the Hudson film event.

“Women don’t inherit property in many African countries,” said Meade. “Sexual and physical abuse of children and women is frequent even though there are laws against it,” she added noting that the victims are often reluctant to confront their abusers and press charges.

The 2013 Tribunal, according to a recent press release, provided a forum where judges identified the human rights violations and the remedies required by law. Grandmothers are the primary caregivers for children orphaned by the HIV/AIDS epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa.

Meade, a long-time volunteer with the local Grannies group, is excited to be chosen by the SLF for a two-week trip with 11 Grannies from across Canada and Australia to Zambia and South Africa. “We will be visiting community-based organizations funded by SLF as well as attending a conference of community leaders in Durban, South Africa,” said Meade.

She said the foundation supports initiatives originating with African community organizations rather than supposed solutions imposed from the outside. The Durban conference will bring together women from urban and isolated rural areas. “We are there to take notes and listen, not to make a presentation,” said Meade. The volunteer Grannies from Canada and Australia are required to pay their own travel expenses.

Grannies Aid for Africa is part of the Grandmothers to Grandmothers movement launched on International Women’s Day in 2006. During the World Aids Conference in August 2006, the SLF organized a gathering of grandmothers from Canada and Africa to share ideas, knowledge, needs, and resources. Out of this meeting, a partnership of Canadian and African grandmothers was created. It provides support for immediate needs such as nutritious food, health care, transportation, home visits, adequate housing and bedding, school fees, uniforms and supplies for orphans. Longer-term needs are also met such as parenting and business skills, micro-credit grants, bereavement counseling, HIV awareness training, counselling, and grandmother support groups.

Tickets for the screening of the film are available at the Pure Art Boutique, 422 Main Road, Hudson or by calling Gisela Marler at (450) 458-0897. The cost is $20 each and includes a reception following the film. All proceeds benefit the Stephen Lewis Foundation.

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