Stephen Lewis Foundation Solidarity Tour Begins in Winnipeg

May 9, 2013

On May 3, 2013 the Stephen Lewis Foundation kicked off its 15-day Solidarity Tour to put the AIDS pandemic in Africa back on the Canadian agenda and highlight the courageous and innovative responses from the frontlines in sub-Saharan Africa. The tour goes from Winnipeg to Windsor, Ontario visiting eight communities for public events and meetings.

In the last 30 years, more than 30 million people have died of AIDS and there are 34 million people currently living with HIV worldwide. 24 million of those live in sub-Saharan Africa. Only 7 million of those infected in sub-Saharan Africa are on treatment. Still, in sub-Saharan Africa people are infected @ twice the rate of those receiving treatment.

The situation in sub-Saharan Africa remains pressing, but it is impossible to be discouraged when one sees community-based projects in Africa working with tenacity and sophistication, resurrecting their communities and providing hope for the future. It’s all part of the grassroots campaign to create major change right across Africa at the community level.

Here in Canada, the Stephen Lewis Foundation has been supported by a movement of more than 130,000 Canadians who make individual donations, take part in the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign, organize fundraising events in their schools and communities, and participate through their unions. In 10 years we’ve distributed more than $84 million to 300+ organizations in 15 countries.

In particular, the Canadian Grandmothers Campaign demonstrates the inspiring Canadian response. The Stephen Lewis Foundation launched the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign in March 2006, in response to the emerging crisis faced by African grandmothers as they struggled to care for millions of children orphaned by AIDS. The Campaign aims to raise awareness, build solidarity and mobilize support in Canada for Africa’s grandmothers. The Campaign has since evolved into a dynamic and responsive national movement, and currently boasts more than 250 grandmothers groups across the country, raising more than $17 million since 2006. In Winnipeg alone, there are more than 150 dues-paying Grandmother Group members!

Canadian unions have long supported the Stephen Lewis Found¬ation with a shared commit¬ment to social justice, women’s equality, and inter¬national solidarity. Many union members are engaged around the AIDS pandemic through their women’s and human rights committees, and international solidarity and humanity funds. At the local level, union members are on the front-lines of working for change in their workplaces and communities. They struggle every day for workers’ rights, workplace dignity, and a decent standard of living.

Featured speakers in Winnipeg included Wairimu Mungai, Executive Director of WEM Integrated Health Services in Kenya, and Netty Musanhu, Executive Director of the Musasa Project in Zimbabwe (see photos).