Community

Chilliwack grannies filling empty bowls on Nov. 25

Filling an empty bowl is the perfect metaphor for a group of Chilliwack grandmothers raising funds for African grandmothers left to care for grandchildren orphaned by AIDS.

"In the last few years, the media spotlight has dimmed on the HIV/AIDS epidemic," says grandmother Doreen Morrey, coordinator of the Chilliwacky Gogos. "And sadly, as a result, funding for grassroots HIV/AIDS programs is dropping off. So it's all the more important for those of us with abundant resources to do whatever little bit we can."

Chilliwack women from Sardis, Ryder Lake and Yarrow have united as the Chilliwacky Gogos, and are working with local potters on a unique fundraising effort, The Empty Bowl Fundraiser, on Sunday, Nov. 25.

"Africa's grandmothers have become the heart of the response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic," said Ariel Eastman, another local Gogo. "As groups of grandmothers across Canada, we are finding our collective voice and are advocating for increased awareness of our challenges and the resources available, including financial support."

There are over 240 "gogo" groups across the country, with Chilliwack's being one of the most recent to be formed. Gogo is the Zulu word for grandmother.

Since 2006 these busy, committed elders have raised more than $16.5 million for the Stephen Lewis Foundation Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign.

"When we came up with the idea for the Empty Bowl Fundraiser, we pitched it to the local potters, and the response has been tremendous!" said Sally Lum, grandmother of two. "It's always heartwarming to find such solid community support and generosity for a cause that we need to keep in our hearts and minds."

Local potters who donated bowls include: Solstice Pottery, Greendale Pottery, Wilson Road Pottery, Schellenberg Pottery, Driediger Pottery, R. Skene and Venema Potters, Fieldstone Pottery, Pottery by Kelly and Inspired Arts and Gifts. Check them out in the annual Yarrow Christmas Craft Crawl Nov. 22-25.

Empty Bowl Fundraiser is Nov. 25, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the new Yarrow Community School (4595 Wilson Rd.) For details or tickets 604-795-6673 and check out www.stephenlewisfoundation.org. For $25 everyone receives an African cloth-wrapped bowl handmade by local potters. The bowl will be filled with hearty, homemade soup made with local organic vegetables, with other delicious treats. Look for a handicrafts sale, with 100% of the proceeds going to the African grandmothers.

jfeinberg@theprogress.com

twitter.com/chwkjourno

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