Statement made on 06 May 2009 by Senator Yoine Goldstein (retired)
Hon. Yoine Goldstein:
Honourable senators, Africa has become a continent of orphans. As many as 13 million children have been orphaned by AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. Their parents have disappeared and the grandmothers of those children have become their parents. The grandmothers have buried their own children and then, in their later years, have become parents again raising grandchildren with little or no support in most countries. More than half of these African orphans live in grandmother-headed households. These courageous women have no time to grieve.
This is the next generation; the infants and children who have been left behind. There is never enough for these grandparent-children households, and yet, somehow these grandmothers attempt nonetheless to feed, to clothe and to comfort their orphaned grandchildren.
The Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign was launched on March 7, 2006, on the eve of International Women's Day. Since that date, some 200 groups of Canadian grandmothers have responded to the desperate needs of these African grandmothers. Thus far, the campaign has raised $4 million for African grandmothers and the children in their care. The funds raised through this campaign are handed over to community-level organizations in 15 sub-Saharan African countries that provide grandmothers with support including food, housing, rent, school fees for their grandchildren and grief counselling.
Please look at the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign website through the Stephen Lewis Foundation. The plight of these women is heartbreaking. The pins that I distributed this morning to each of your offices depict a grandmother of one colour inextricably intertwined and linked with a grandmother of another colour. The pin is named Ubuntu, which is an African word meaning, "your humanity is inextricably bound with mine."
Please wear these pins and explain their meaning to whomever you can. Elizabeth Rennie of the Burlington Ubuntu Grandwomen says: "Stand with us and help the heroic grandmothers in Africa and their orphans."
Explain the pin to those who ask, and please support Bill S-232 to streamline and make effective Canada's Access to Medicines Regime so that Canada can send desperately needed AIDS, HIV, tuberculosis and malaria drugs to sub-Saharan Africa.
We owe it to the grandmothers; we owe it to the orphans; we owe it, honourable senators, to ourselves.