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Sherwood Park grannies helping African grandmothers raising orphaned children: ‘We feel a connection with them’ – Edmonton




Grannies here, are helping grannies there.

A group of grannies from Sherwood Park will continue their ongoing efforts to raise money for grandmothers in Africa through an event called Good Words for Africa this weekend.

In partnership with the Stephen Lewis Foundation, The Eastside Grannies will donate all of the proceeds from the event to tens of thousands of African grandmothers who are raising 17 million orphaned grandchildren in a region of Africa south of the Sahara.

They’re raising them because of the country’s HIV/AIDS pandemic.

“We had heard about the needs of the African grandmothers, and most of us firmly believe that had we been born in Africa 75 years ago, their story would be our own,” said Carol Maier, an original member of the Eastside Grannies. “We feel a connection with them.

“When you need somebody, what you need most is a friend. We wanted to be the friends who could help these African grandmothers.”

Watch below: On May 1, Sheila Fahlman spoke about Grandmothers to Grandmothers and her trip to Africa.

The Eastside Grannies raise money through the Grandmothers to Grandmothers campaign and have been doing so for almost 12 years.

“The only ones who are left to look after the children are the grandmothers,” Maier explained.

“They take care of their grandchild 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for the rest of their school lives.”

Good Words for Africa sees attendees gather funds through pledges, show up to the event and play “their best game of Scrabble,” according to Maier.

“We chose Scrabble because Stephen Lewis is the founder of the Grandmothers to Grandmothers campaign and he is absolutely fabulous with words — anytime you listen to him, he’s just an inspiration,” Maier said.

“We wanted some way to earn money using words.

“The first year we tried this, we earned $55,000, which was absolutely gob smacking, and the next year we raised $61,000.”

And though Maier noted that the money raised by the event has declined over the years, some of the 200 groups of “Grannies” across Canada have taken a liking to the format of the event, which originated in Sherwood Park.

“More than 60 groups have used the Good Words for Africa format, and it’s a great moneymaking event,” she said.

“We are thrilled to be the first to have done that. It was serendipity.”

Now, the Eastside Grannies are getting creative and finding new ways to raise money for the African grandmothers.

“We’re going to have a decor show,” Maier explained. “We’re going to ask people who support our cause to donate one treasure from their own homes to our sale, and we’ll take all these treasures and sell them.

“It’s going to be sort of like an upscale garage sale.”

The sale will take place at The Agora in Sherwood Park in the spring. To donate an item, Maier advised people give her a call at 780-464-4195.

The Grannies also hold their annual Rhubarb Rally every spring, their biggest event.

Every treat has rhubarb and it’s symbolic for the Grannies.

“We’re trying to emulate the African Grandmothers. They use what’s available to them to feed their families,”  Maier said.

“In every home site here in Alberta, there’s a patch of rhubarb. So we’re using rhubarb to make rhubarb pies, tarts, cakes, cookies… everything is made of rhubarb.”

The Rhubarb Rally is held at the Bethel Lutheran Church every year and last year’s event saw 240 people show up.

Although over 14,000 kilometres divides them, the Eastside Grannies’ connection with the African grandmothers continues to strengthen, and so do their numbers.

The Grannies started with eight original members, including Maier, and are now up to 30 members.

The Grannies are always welcoming more and if you’d like to become one or get involved with their events, you can visit

Good Words for Africa takes place on Sunday, Nov. 3 at the Bedford Village Dining Room in Sherwood Park.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali



Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali

Contrary to the expectations of the people, the leadership of the Episcopal Conference of Mali (CEM) has termed the Tuesday, August 18 military coup in the West African nation as “regrettable” and “a big failure for our democracy” and called for a change of mentality if the country has to put an end to coups.

In an interview with ACI Africa Wednesday, August 19, made available to RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA, the President of CEM, Bishop Jonas Dembélé said that the governance challenges the country is facing can be managed through dialogue.

“The military coup that led to the ousting of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta is regrettable because we are in a state of law and democracy. This is the second time that Mali has had a military coup as a result of the way in which the country is governed. It is a big failure for our democracy even if there were reasons for it,” Bishop Dembélé told ACI Africa.

“It is true that our country has serious challenges including bad governance, the poor management of the economy, corruption, insecurity and so on,” Bishop Dembélé said and probed, “Why is it that we Malians have not managed to engage in dialogue to be able to discuss these problems and face up to these challenges responsibly?”

“Our leaders, our people lack transparency, they hate those who speak the truth and advocate for good governance. This mentality must change for our country to move on,” the Prelate told ACI Africa August 19.

Bishop Dembélé who is a frontline member of RECOWA-CERAO urged the military officials “to ensure a return to democracy as promised but most especially ensuring the new leadership of the country put the people first and tackle the security challenges facing the nation.”

Asked about the role of the Church in the current crisis, the 57-year-old Prelate noted, “For us the Catholic Church in Mali, our role is to preach peace; our role is to preach dialogue. We shall continue in this path of dialogue for peace just like Cardinal Jean Zerbo and some religious leaders initiated.”

“In a state of law, power is not in the hands of certain individuals but to the people. The anger of our people led to this crisis, but we must work for peace and reconciliation in Mali,” Bishop Dembélé said.

He continued in recollections, “The Bishops in Mali have always issued messages before every election in our country sounding the alert and inviting the government to organize transparent elections, ensure good governance and better management of resources.”
“But it seems our messages are never taken into consideration that is why we find ourselves in this situation today,” the Local Ordinary of Kayes Diocese told ACI Africa and added, “If the opinion of the Episcopal Conference of Mali is needed to mediate in bringing back stability and peace in the country, then we are ready.”

As a way forward, the Bishop urged the people of God in Mali to “seek the path to conversion” and to accept dialogue in the spirit of truth and honesty.
“We all want change in our

country, but this change can only be possible if individually we seek the path to conversion. It is for Malians be they Muslims or Christians or members of traditional religion, to do an examination of conscience and accept personal and community conversion in order to engage in sincere dialogue,” he said.

The Malian Prelate added, “Now there is this coup d’état to demand change we really wonder where change should come from. As long as we don’t change our behavior, our mentality, we will always have a repeat of the current situation.”

On Tuesday, August 18, President Keita announced his resignation and dissolved parliament hours after mutinying soldiers detained him at gunpoint, Aljazeera reported.
“For seven years, I have with great joy and happiness tried to put this country on its feet. If today some people from the armed forces have decided to end it by their intervention, do I have a choice? I should submit to it because I do not want any blood to be shed,” President Keita said August 18 during the televised address to the nation.

Rev. Fr. George Nwachukwu

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Harris accepts VP nomination



Harris accepts VP nomination

Senator Kamala Harris formally accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president on Wednesday following a scathing speech by former President Barack Obama, who said the fate of the nation” depends entirely on the outcome of this election.”

Both Mr. Obama and Harris stressed the importance of voting, with Harris saying “we’re all in this fight together.” Harris sounded an optimistic note by highlighting her personal history and the promise of America, saying she was “so inspired by a new generation.”

“Make no mistake, the road ahead will not be not easy,” she said. “We will stumble. We may fall short. But I pledge to you that we will act boldly and deal with our challenges honestly. We will speak truths. And we will act with the same faith in you that we ask you to place in us.” She called Mr. Trump a “predator” in a speech that came after Mr. Obama issued his most forceful rebuke of his successor to date, saying Mr. Trump “hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t.”

“This president and those in power — those who benefit from keeping things the way they are — they are counting on your cynicism,” Mr. Obama said. “They know they can’t win you over with their policies. So they’re hoping to make it as hard as possible for you to vote, and to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter.

That’s how they win. That’s how they get to keep making decisions that affect your life, and the lives of the people you love. That’s how the economy will keep getting skewed to the wealthy and well-connected, how our health systems will let more people fall through the cracks. That’s how a democracy withers, until it’s no democracy at all.”

Mr. Obama and Hillary Clinton, speaking earlier in the night, both said they had hoped Mr. Trump would rise to the occasion. But they both stressed what they called his failures while in office, with Mr. Obama saying Mr. Trump has shown “no interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves.”

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Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself



Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself

The Malian soldiers who forced President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to resign in a coup promised early Wednesday to organize new elections after their takeover was swiftly condemned by the international community.

In a statement carried overnight on state broadcaster ORTM, the mutinous soldiers who staged Tuesday’s military coup identified themselves as the National Committee for the Salvation of the People led by Colonel Major Ismael Wagué.

“With you, standing as one, we can restore this country to its former greatness,” Wagué said, announcing that borders were closed and that a curfew was going into effect from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m

The news of Keita’s departure was met with jubilation by anti-government demonstrators in the capital, Bamako, and alarm by former colonial ruler France and other allies and foreign nations.

The U.N. Security Council scheduled a closed meeting Wednesday August 19, 2020 afternoon to discuss the unfolding situation in Mali, where the U.N. has a 15,600-strong peacekeeping mission. Keita, who was democratically elected in a 2013 landslide and re-elected five years later, still had three years left in his term.

But his popularity had plummeted, and demonstrators began taking to the streets calling for his ouster in June.

West African regional bloc ECOWAS had sent mediators to try and negotiate a unity government but those talks fell apart when it became clear that the protesters would not accept less than Keita’s resignation.

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