The sunflower. It’s bright, warm, cheery. It attracts pollinators, and its seeds are packed with nutrition. Its petals resemble the rays of the very sun that it’s head turns to face as it moves through the sky. It’s a symbol of strength, beauty, utility and hope. But in addition to these, there’s a good reason to incorporate sunflowers into your outdoor area. On Saturday, May 7, by purchasing these plants that turn to the sun,you can do a good turn for families affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa.
The event, “Turn to the Sun” is a sunflower seedling sale at Gwynne Vaughn Park from 9 am to 1 pm. On offer will be a large variety of sunflower seedlings, including giants, dwarf, mid size, multi-branching and multi-coloured, each at $3 per plant. Some baked goods and coffee and tea will also be available, as will a card-making craft for kids.
One hundred percent of sale proceeds go to The Stephen Lewis Foundation’s Grandmothers to
Grandmothers campaign, supporting grandmothers in Africa caring for their grandchildren orphaned by HIV/AIDS. The local chapter, a group of ‘grandmothers and grand-others’ dubbed the Chilliwacky GoGos, is sponsoring the event.
“It’s a very simple way to help,” said Erin Coulter, one of the event’s organizers, and Gogo member.
The HIV/AIDS pandemic has spread across the African content in the last 30 years, taking the lives of many, many of the young parents, leaving the children orphaned.
“It’s the grandmothers,” says Coulter, “who stand up for these children. Grandmothers who have lost their adult children. Grandmothers who themselves are elderly and struggle to provide for their own needs.
They step up and take in their grandchildren. Gogos groups across Canada are trying, in our small way, to stand up for them.”
Stephen Lewis, the former Canadian UN Ambassador to Africa, saw a crisis there over 10 years ago. He saw thousands of grandmothers struggling to raise orphaned grandchildren. He brought the story back to tell Canadians, and the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign was created.
Fundraisers have been held across the country for ten years, raising money to support the Grandmothers and the orphaned grandchildren in ways that help them heal, learn, grow and thrive. Funds are used to support health initiatives, provide grief counselling and for educational purposes.
This Chilliwack event is timed perfectly for the sunflowers to serve another purpose—beyond beauty and benefits of the remarkable plant, helping grandmothers in Africa. As the sale is the day before Mother’s Day—the seedlings can also be a gift for mom.