SLF Blog

Filling Big Shoes for children in South Africa

On May 3rd and 4th, the 42 Canadian grandmothers  –  in South Africa and Swaziland for the Grandmothers’ Gathering – broke into small groups and went to visit projects around Johannesburg that are supported by the Stephen Lewis Foundation. Eight of us, accompanied by a photographer and a videographer, had the huge privilege of visiting The Big Shoes Foundation.

The Big Shoes Foundation is “all about medical interventions that assist children to grow up and fill big shoes.” The staff practice paediatric health and palliative care that is holistic and focuses on the quality of the physical, emotional and spiritual lives of children and families. Grandmothers and the children in their care can make use of services like HIV information, bereavement counselling, food parcels, and money for transportation. 

The offices of Big Shoes are located in what used to be Johannesburg’s specialist hospital for children. The building is now full of NGOs working with children, and there is a real energy to the place. The Big Shoes space is bright and welcoming: murals and photos adorn the walls and there are several play areas and diaper changing stations.

We were greeted by the full staff, and tea and home-baked cookies were served. We also met Muriel – a South African grandmother who volunteers for Big Shoes, visiting infants in hospital and bringing them the cuddly and colourful teddy bears she makes for them, even though she is almost completely blind.

Next, we were off to the Soweto Hospice, a partner of Big Shoes. A visit to the wards was heart wrenching. A mother sat by her baby’s side, watching him sleep and holding his hand as his tiny body fought against TB. There were two nurses tending to other infants, and there was a well-used bunk bed in the corner where parents could rest.

But Soweto Hospice is not a place of pure despair. Upon arrival, we were taken into a large room, full of sewing machines and large tables where men and women were busy beading beautiful jewellery. This was the home of the Empowerment Project: an initiative that teaches HIV positive people in the community to sew and bead, giving them a chance to earn some income while spending time in a warm, communal atmosphere. Gertrude, a volunteer teacher with the project, explained to us that the patients get three full meals a day when at the project  – a vital component to the success of their ARV regime. “They don’t feel so sick when they come here” she explained. “They are busy and they have company. It is a happy place”. The crafts were beautiful and meticulously produced, and the Canadian grandmothers made several purchases for themselves, their children and their grandchildren back home.

We could have stayed for ages, chatting with the patients and watching them produce these delicate, intricate pieces, but this week was International Paediatric Care Week  and the staff were rushing to put the finishing touches on a major event. The theme of the week was “Sharing the Care” – such a fitting one for the work being done in this community.

Next, we headed for Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, one of Johannesburg’s biggest health care facilities. It is a sprawling campus of buildings assigned to every conceivable condition and need, but we headed straight for the paediatric ward. Here, after a quick tour, we were greeted by 7 African grandmothers, all of whom have been supported by Big Shoes. As is always the case when Canadian and African grandmothers meet, the sense of solidarity was palpable: there were hugs, tears, singing, dancing. One brave South African grandmother stood up to tell her story: her 17 year old son had died very recently, and her pain was raw. The grandmothers rushed to her side, hugging her and stroking her, and telling her how strong she was. But she had started something – and once she was comforted, each granny took turns telling their story too.

“The metaphor of you coming to us is incredibly powerful” said Luke, the Executive Director of Big Shoes. “That people who don’t even live in this country care so much about the children of this country sends us a strong message of love.”

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Celebration and Ceremony: Day One at the African Grandmothers’ Gathering

The first day of the African Grandmothers Gathering started early. A 9:00 am registration at the Convention Centre meant that all of us had to be awake and fed and on the buses by 8:30am. This might sound like an easy task, but when you consider that multiple grandmothers share one room with one shower, and that more and more grandmothers from Swaziland and across Africa were arriving every moment, it was an accomplishment!

Add to that, the fact that the Queen Mother of Swaziland was attending the Gathering, which meant that each of us had to enter the Convention Centre one-by-one through a metal detector.

Once we all arrived though, magic started to happen. Despite the fact that many of the African grandmothers had arrived only that morning, and had been on planes or in airports overnight, we were all energized by each other’s presence. Siphiwe Hlope from Swaziland Positive Living (SWAPOL,) and one of the organizers of the event, spoke powerfully about the need for immediate action to address the needs of grandmothers.

Ilana Landsberg-Lewis (Executive Director, Stephen Lewis Foundation) vigorously delivered a speech on behalf of Stephen Lewis, who was unable to attend the Gathering.

Throughout the long programme of speakers, the grandmothers always found ways to reenergize each other. Young Swazi performers – dancing and singing and drumming – were met with the loud ululations of grandmothers from every country. The breaks in between each dinner course and the favourite songs played by the brass band meant standing up and dancing at every table.

Despite the distance or time it took us to get to this place, or the hardship or ease of our journey, or the number of years we’ve walked on this earth, we all knew that we were at the start of something extraordinary – the African Grandmothers Gathering.

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Children of Hope: Teteni Home Care Nursing Services, South Africa

We arrived on the outskirts of Pretoria mid-morning and were met by close to fifty staff and grandmothers of Tateni, in the community hall of St. Francis Church. The smiles and clapping and songs of welcome from these women made it immediately clear that these were women of courage and joy.

Despite the cool rain and fog, we could see, hear and feel the heart and passion of an entire community, and we knew that we were privileged to spend time with such tenacious women!

In the face of all of their grief, they inspire dignity and hope in all children they care for. One grandmother named Francine stood and expressed profound thanks for bringing children into her life “because children are teachers and we learn so much from them”.

At Tateni there is no word for orphan. Instead, children who have lost one or more parents because of AIDS, are known as children of hope.

We spent most of the day together. As the morning became afternoon and the sun started to come out, we sat together in small groups, talking about grandchildren, our struggles and our triumphs.

As we sang and swayed together, (Princess) Margaret from Tateni – a self-described “proud senior citizen” – performed a poem that brought goosebumps to many of our arms:

Where there’s a woman
There’s a way, there’s a will.
Where there’s a woman
There’s an organization, there’s work to be done.
Where there’s a woman
There’s a manager, a director.
Whenever there is a woman present
There’s an engagement, and someone is busy doing something.
Where there’s a woman
There’s a nation.
Where there’s a woman
There’s a nation.
Where there’s a woman
There’s a nation, there is love.

Tateni started with the vision and compassion of just one woman, who wanted “to provide care in the home for those who are sick”. Today, Tateni provides home-based care, support to grandmothers, community gardening and food and after-school activities for children.

“We work so hard only because we love what we do. You have to love what you do in order to be able to say, I’ve got to wake up today and go back to work. This is the type of work that is not financially rewarding. This is the type of work that is full of sorrow. When I started working at Tateni, I would go sometimes without eating in the evening, because I’d be thinking about the people I’d met who wouldn’t be eating – who don’t even have a plate to eat from. But this is also the type of work that I love.”

Regina Mokgokong, Executive Director, Tateni

As we were getting ready to leave our friends at Tateni, Lisbie Rae, a Canadian grandmother, stood and shared her appreciation for the day:
“We heard your stories and we wanted, as grandmothers ourselves, to let you know that we hear the amazing things that you are doing and we want to do what we can to help. We can’t come here and do the work that you are doing, but we can work in our own communities, and tell your stories to our neighbours, to our children, to our friends, to our churches, and to everyone at home. I feel moved in my heart to listen to what you have to say, to hear your singing and rejoicing. Thank you for sharing with us.”

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Remarks from Stephen Lewis, Chair of the Board, on the occasion of the first African Grandmothers’ Gathering, Swaziland, May 6-8

Your Majesty, the Queen Mother of Swaziland, the Honourable Prime Minister, the Honourable Deputy Prime Minister, and all other esteemed dignitaries here assembled, and above all, the grandmothers of Africa and Canada:

I can’t begin to express how sorry I am that I cannot be here with you today. I’ve looked forward to it for a very long time, but an unexpected minor illness has kept me at home. I threatened to put my doctors in jail if they didn’t give me permission to travel, but they prevailed in the end.

On the other hand, I’m very proud that Ilana is here to convey my remarks to you at the opening of this first-ever grandmother’s gathering in Africa.

Let me start with a small piece of history. One of the reasons I’m pleased Ilana is with you is that, back in 2006, she first raised with me the question of the grandmothers of Africa. She and her Foundation colleagues argued that more and more often, orphan children were being looked after by their African grandmothers, and yet, next to nothing was being done for the grandmothers themselves. From that innocent beginning there emerged, first, the astonishingly moving and successful grandmothers gathering at the outset of the International AIDS Conference in Toronto in 2006, followed by an explosion of solidarity between African and Canadian grandmothers, now growing irresistibly into a mass international social movement.

In the interim, we’ve learned a lot; the entire HIV/AIDS movement has learned a lot.

We’ve learned that African grandmothers are the backbone of the continent. We’ve learned that African grandmothers form the core of community-based care. We’ve learned that African grandmothers will sacrifice their very lives to protect and nurture their orphan grandchildren. We’ve learned that African grandmothers are generous beyond belief. We’ve learned that African grandmothers, in several countries, care for between forty and sixty per cent of all orphan children , amounting to several million in total. We’ve learned that Africa could not survive without its grandmothers.

If there were greater justice in the Nobel prize for peace, it would go not to President Obama, but to his paternal grandmother and all the other grandmothers of Africa who share the setbacks and the joys, the agonies and the raptures, the struggles and the hopes of their orphan grandchildren.

AIDS has cut a terrible swath through Africa. For some inexplicable reason, Africa was not prepared for the monumental numbers of orphans left behind. It is as though the death of parents somehow occurred in a vacuum, as though the children would somehow survive on their own.

But of course they couldn’t. And the community structures and the family structures were so devastated by the pandemic that children faced separation, isolation, child-headed households: it felt like abandonment.

But there then emerged — suddenly, almost miraculously, magnificently — one solid wall of protection, a wall so strong that it withstood all the misfortune heaped on the orphans of Africa. It was the wall of grandmothers. You couldn’t penetrate it. You couldn’t destroy it. It stands today as the protective embrace for the orphan children of the continent.

You know that protective embrace in Swaziland. This country has suffered more from AIDS than any other country in Southern Africa. I visited Swaziland a number of times when I was the United Nations Envoy — in fact, I remember the occasion when I spoke to the members of the public service of Swaziland, at a meeting here in Manzani, and noted, on that occasion, that Swaziland had surpassed Botswana and had the highest AIDS prevalence rate in all of Africa.

You can imagine the challenge for the Government. You can imagine the challenge for NERCHA. There’s no greater challenge on the continent. It’s a tremendous tribute to the country that it continues to fight the virus with such extraordinary determination. All of us want Swaziland to win this fight. You have lost far too many of your men, women and children, with the women and children remaining most grievously at risk.

But you have enormous strengths. And one of those strengths is the organization responsible for bringing this incredible grandmothers gathering together … the organization we all know and admire: Swaziland For Positive Living, or SWAPOL.

I want to tell you that of all the civil society organizations of People Living With AIDS, SWAPOL ranks amongst the top two or three in all of Africa. It’s uncompromising and it’s principled. Sometimes the Government gets mad at it; sometimes NERCHA gets mad at it; sometimes even I lose patience with it. But the phenomenal strength of SWAPOL lies in its refusal to be taken off track, its absolute dedication to its members and to the cause for which it exists: turning the tide of AIDS in Swaziland.

So I want you to allow me for a moment to pay tribute to its leader: Siphiwe Hlophe. And I must start with a confession, a confession in the presence of my daughter, my grandsons, the Canadian grandmothers and my wonderful associates at the Stephen Lewis Foundation. I love Siphiwe. I’m crazy about her. I have a crush on her. If I were here now, I’d grab Siphiwe and swirl her around in the air (well, maybe that’s not quite accurate … it’s probably closer to the truth to say that Siphiwe would swirl me around in the air), but whoever’s doing the swirling, the fact of the matter is that Siphiwe is a giant in the battle against AIDS.

And you see it all around you. This gathering would not be possible without her. Never underestimate Siphiwe. She now rubs shoulders with Presidents and leaders of the United Nations. She’s one of the most sought-after speakers at the International AIDS Conference in Vienna this July. She has become a force of nature. Personally, I’m jealous: I used to be a force of nature and now my position has been usurped by Siphiwe. Still, please believe me when I say that the Stephen Lewis Foundation is immensely proud to support SWAPOL, and to have worked in partnership to support this historic Gathering.

Just think of what’s happening: grandmothers from fourteen nations; representatives from activist women’s groups fighting for gender equality; associations of People Living With AIDS; an intense day of meetings tomorrow, organized by the grandmothers, to hammer out a mandate, a strategy to take us forward; and with it an all-consuming focus on what must be done for the orphans and grandmothers of Africa.

We’ve entered a tough time in the annals of AIDS. Donor governments are cutting back, both the Global Fund and PEPFAR are short on money, second-line drugs are often too expensive for governments to afford … uneasy days lie ahead. This year, 2010, was supposed to be the year of universal access to treatment, prevention and care. We’re nowhere near those goals in any respect.

Given all of that, the best strategy would seem to be to focus determinedly on community-based, grass-roots work. And that brings us back to the grandmothers: they are the community.

I hope this gathering is a remarkable success. And then one day we can do it again. But I want to say to you, in closing, that all of the Canadian grandmothers, represented by the fine women from Canada here today, will be with the African grandmothers every step of the way, as will the Stephen Lewis Foundation. It’s an honour and a privilege to stand with you, and to be at your side as you rescue and feed and clothe and shelter and educate and heal and love an entire generation of children whose lives would otherwise be fractured and lost.

Grandmothers of Africa, we love you, we honour you, and we salute you.

Stephen Lewis

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The Time Has Come: Manzini, May 2010

In 2006, the Stephen Lewis Foundation (SLF) hosted the first ever Grandmothers Gathering. We thought that the event couldn’t be matched. It brought together 200 Canadian grandmothers from the fledgling Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign with 100 African grandmothers and project staff from across sub-Saharan Africa. The motivation for the event was to meet with the women holding Africa together and to hear from them directly about the types of support they needed, and to introduce the Canadian grandmothers to the women they were already so motivated to help. The grannies spent 3 days celebrating, learning, sharing and rallying – it seemed like a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Fast-forward to 2010. The Canadian Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign has grown in leaps and bounds: there are now over 240 groups across Canada, representing every province and one territory and with membership totaling 5,000-10,000 grandmothers and grandothers. The Campaign has raised over $7 million, and SLF funding to projects that support grandmothers across Africa makes up approximately 20% of our disbursements.

The one thing that hasn’t changed in the four years since the first Gathering is the determination and strength of the grandmothers on both continents. And so it seemed time to bring them together again.

The Grandmothers Gathering of 2010 – taking place this week (May 6-8) in Manzini, Swaziland – will unite almost 500 grandmothers from 11 countries in sub-Saharan Africa so that they can share their stories, their learning, their expertise and their love. Forty-two delegates from Canadian Grandmother groups across Canada have already convened in Johannesburg, in preparation for their trip to Manzini to join their African sisters. They are here to represent their groups, their communities, and the solidarity felt across Canada for their African counterparts who are working so tirelessly to raise orphaned and vulnerable children.

The 2010 Gathering comes at a time of deep financial crisis in the area of international HIV/AIDS programming and support. This congregation of women from across Africa and Canada will bring attention to the issue, and a reminder that it is an international problem for which we are all responsible and by which we are all affected.

The excitement of all the grandmothers is mounting. All know that the 2010 Gathering will be a truly historic event. It marks the first time that African grandmothers, who have been living with the pandemic for over two decades, are coming together as experts in what it means to lose a generation and to be responsible for the young lives and spirits left behind. It is the first chance that most of the African grandmothers will have had to share their experiences as elderly parents, caregivers to the bereaved, community activists, and national policy-makers. And a movement where African grandmothers and the projects that support them can name priorities and make change collectively and for themselves will most surely be born.

The importance of the presence of the 42 Canadian delegates is immeasurable. These Canadian grandmothers represent support and solidarity from beyond the borders of the continent. They remind the African grandmothers that they are not alone.

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Have your (cup)cake and eat it, too!

Delicious treats from Eat My WordsIf you haven’t heard about Eat My Words yet, you’re in for a treat. Not only do they make the most delicious cupcakes and brownies imaginable, they donate the proceeds from their sales to the Stephen Lewis Foundation.

If you’re going to be in the Toronto area before Valentine’s Day, visit the Eat My Words table at Scotia Plaza (at King & Bay St.) on February 11th and 12th. The Bank of Nova Scotia will match every dollar raised through the sale of their tasty treats, up to $5000!

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A corrosive lack of leadership on AIDS

There is no question that as this decade ends, significant progress can be seen in the battle against HIV/AIDS.

There’s vastly greater awareness and there’s more money; in the developed world AIDS has been transformed into a chronic disease and the hospital wards of the developing world are no longer fast-tracked to the cemetery.

It’s not that death is on vacation. Two million people died of AIDS-related illnesses last year, and AIDS is the primary cause of death among women, world-wide, in their reproductive years. Prevalence rates remain staggeringly high in a number of African countries, and from Washington, D.C., to the First Nations reserves in Canada, the grim reaper still haunts the landscape.

But progress there has been. I wouldn’t dispute it for a moment. However, as we enter the new decade, it’s fundamentally shocking to realize how far we have yet to go.

While there are now four million people in treatment, there are an additional six million people who require treatment today, immediately, and we’ll never be able to roll out the drugs quickly enough to get to them all in time to keep them alive.

For every two people we put into treatment, there are five new infections. Clearly, despite herculean efforts, we haven’t found the key to prevention — all we can claim are snippets of behaviour change here and there among various age groups in various countries.

In the vexing area of vertical transmission — transmission from an HIV-positive mother to child during the birthing process — progress is sabotaged by inaccurate statistical data coming from UN agencies, and even more severely compromised by a double standard of treatment between North and South. You can guess who reaps the benefit.

We have no vaccine, despite heroic efforts to discover one, nor do we have a microbicide. An excellent preventive technology such as male circumcision is only now haltingly in use because of the endless delays and prevarications to which UN agencies are addicted. They take forever to make up their minds when the obvious stares them in the face. One of the things that most vividly characterized the last decade was a corrosive absence of multilateral leadership.

There’s a desperate shortage of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and community health workers. The opportunity to export generic antiretroviral drugs from developed countries has gone nowhere — only Canada made the effort and with both Liberal and Conservative governments, that effort is on life support.

The high-risk groups of men who have sex with men, sex workers and injecting drug users are only beginning to get the attention they deserve. But the intolerance and punitive hatred directed at so-called vulnerable populations makes progress very difficult.

Sadly, we have monumental numbers of orphans languishing without adequate attention and nurture in country after country. If it wasn’t for the grandmothers of the world, God knows what would happen to the majority of these children (which, forgive the shameless self-promotion, is why the Grandmothers to Grandmothers campaign of the Stephen Lewis Foundation makes such sense).

And to top everything off, because of pervasive, unrelenting gender inequality, women are disproportionately vulnerable. The response to women infected by the virus has been the most disappointingly lamentable of all.

The year 2010 was supposed to be the year of “Universal Access” to treatment, prevention and care. We’ve missed by a huge margin. That’s why it’s tough to be sanguine about what the next decade will hold.

But the real and most formidable challenge is that of resources. We’re billions of dollars short of what we’ll need, year after year to keep millions of people alive, and to fight the virus on many fronts.

And surprisingly enough, the problem of dollars lies primarily with the Obama regime. Who would have thought it? On two counts, the Obama administration has put the entire struggle against the AIDS pandemic in peril; both involve money. It doesn’t augur well for the next decade.

First, President Barack Obama has flat-lined the budget for PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. This is a direct reversal of the increases he promised during the election campaign, and the policy reversal is in place despite the fact that the increases have been endorsed by Congress. The AIDS activist community is rightly up in arms, given the astronomic amounts spent on bail-outs and bonuses. It’s hard to be persuaded that the financial crisis is so great as to prejudice an additional three or four billion dollars a year for HIV/AIDS when hundreds of billions are tossed around in wanton corporate fashion.

Second, and even more ominous, the Obama administration seems to have bought into the idea that AIDS has been receiving too much money at the expense of other global health priorities.

This is a truly pernicious argument. It leads to the intellectual folly of suggesting that resources should actually be taken away from AIDS and transferred elsewhere — say, to maternal and child health for example. It’s just so nonsensical that it’s hard to take seriously, except that some self-aggrandizing academics, salivating in the publicity, have put it forward as a thesis and won the uncritical approval of some members of the Obama coterie.

It’s hard to imagine that Barack Obama would fall for that kind of guff. The answer of course is to enlarge the pie for global health so that HIV/AIDS, still struggling as the world’s most alarming communicable disease, isn’t compromised.

That’s the challenge for the coming decade.

What is lacking in all of this is global political leadership. Only Gordon Brown, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, of all the G8/G20 leaders, has thus far shown an abiding and determined commitment to ridding the world of poverty, conflict and disease.

Certainly Canada’s Stephen Harper isn’t in that league.

Stephen Lewis is former UN special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa.

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The End of the 00s: A decade in review

The Citizen has asked prominent writers to assess human progress in a variety of fields over the last 10 years: economics, science and technology, culture, poverty alleviation, nuclear disarmament and more. Their responses will be run over the month of December.
© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

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Groundbreaking report on sexual terror in Zimbabwe

Today in Johannesburg, South Africa, AIDS-Free World, an international advocacy organization co-directed by Stephen Lewis and Paula Donovan, released a groundbreaking report on sexual violence in Mugabe’s Zimbabwe. SLF volunteer and freelance journalist Nicole Kallmeyer attended the launch. Here is her report:

AIDS-Free World released their groundbreaking report today in Johannesburg

Electing to Rape: Sexual Terror in Mugabe's Zimbabwe

On a bright summer’s day in Johannesburg, Stephen Lewis revealed another dark truth about Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party’s acts of intimidation and terror during the 2008 presidential elections.

Representing international AIDS advocacy organization, AIDS-Free World, Mr. Lewis joined a panel of experts to release a report titled Electing to Rape: Sexual Terror in Mugabe’s Zimbabwe.

Based on testimonies from 70 Zimbabwean women, the report concludes that men and youth affiliated with ZANU-PF committed widespread and systematic rape to terrorize women supporting Morgan Tsvangirai’s opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change.

“To read the report is to weep and to be enraged simultaneously,” Mr. Lewis said, sitting alongside Elinor Sisulu, a Zimbabwean writer, human rights activist and political analyst; Betsy Apple, the legal director and general counsel of AIDS-Free World; and Paula Akugizibwe, an employee of the AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa.

Ms. Akugizibwe discussed the transmission of HIV during these acts of sexual violence. Twenty-six of the women interviewed (37%) tested HIV-positive after being raped, she said. Furthermore, some perpetrators announced they were intentionally infecting women. “We have hurt you. So go get tested because we have given you the prize for what you are doing,” said one rapist to his 27-year-old victim.

According to the report, “Rape in Zimbabwe, with its high HIV prevalence rates [15%] and decimated medical infrastructure, is a death sentence for many women there.”

Mr. Lewis spoke passionately about the need to eradicate impunity and institute justice. Since the majority of Zimbabwe’s public prosecutors, magistrates and judges are connected to ZANU-PF, local prosecutions against the perpetrators are unlikely. In addition, Zimbabwe’s domestic rape laws are insufficient to address the coordinated, politically-charged attacks committed.

But, the African governments and leaders can and must act, Mr. Lewis urged. High-level commanders can be tried in the courts of other African countries under the principal of universal jurisdiction, and regional bodies such as the Southern African Development Community and the African Union can publicly condemn ZANU-PF’s crimes and garner attention from the United Nations.

“Zimbabwe violates every international human rights convention it has ratified and is never brought to account,” Mr. Lewis said. “The strategy of sexual violence applied politically, amounting to crimes against humanity, should be the final straw that breaks the back of world paralysis.”

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Bid on George’s signed Leafs jersey

This past October, George Stroumboulopoulos, host of CBC’s Bid on George's signed Leafs jersey, was challenged by his viewers to do a dare as part of the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s A Dare To Remember fundraising campaign.

George’s fans suggested that he wear a colour other than black, wear a Maple Leafs shirt on air, or even pairs skate with Kurt Browning. So he combined these ideas and did all three: he took figure skating lessons from Kurt Browning while wearing a Leafs’ shirt! Watch Episode 28 of the current season of The Hour to see George and Kurt in action.

George signed the shirt and asked his friends on CBC’s Battle of the Blades to do the same. Now you could own this shirt, signed by Kurt Browning, Ron MacLean, Jamie Salé, Barbara Underhill, Shae-Lynn Bourne, Marie-France Dubreuil, Christine Hough-Sweeney (“Tuffy”) and others! It would make a a great gift for yourself, or the Strombo fan, Leafs fan, hockey fan or figure-skating fan in your life.

You’ve got 10 days to bid on George’s autographed jersey on Ebay: http://bit.ly/89reHY. All proceeds will go to supporting grassroots HIV/AIDS organizations through the Stephen Lewis Foundation. Let the bidding war begin!

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This just in: Donate your miles until noon tomorrow!

December 1st is Mile Matching Day!Today is Mile Matching Day!

Aeroplan will match every mile donated to the Stephen Lewis Foundation until noon tomorrow (Dec.2nd) through its Beyond Miles programme. Help us by spreading the word, sharing this link on facebook and twitter, and telling all of your friends, and by donating online now at: http://bit.ly/7EZRJT

The Stephen Lewis Foundation uses donated miles to facilitate field visits and support projects in 15 African countries, making it possible to allocate more funds directly to grassroots HIV/AIDS organizations. We’ve also used donated miles to bring the voices of African leaders to the forefront through mentorship initiatives and groundbreaking meetings on orphan care and home-based health care, uniting projects from across Africa to share their learning and experience. Thank you so much for making this possible!

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