SLF Blog

Stephen Lewis on The Hour tonight!

Stephen Lewis appearing on The Hour tonightFirst, Stephen Lewis dared to sing “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” live with Arkells on The Hour with George Stroumboulopoulos. Then, George dared to don a Maple Leafs jersey and take figure staking lessons from Kurt Browning.

Tonight, watch Stephen Lewis give a special World AIDS Day update on The Hour and find out how you can bid on George’s signed jersey! Visit for details. And check out The Stoumboulopouli blog, which features a special entry on World AIDS Day.

And, don’t forget — TODAY ONLY, Aeroplan will match every mile donated to the Stephen Lewis Foundation! Tell your friends and donate your miles online now!

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Stephen Lewis' World AIDS Day message

Dear friends,

Back in 2005, at the G8 Summit, all countries agreed unanimously to achieve “Universal Access” for AIDS treatment, prevention and care by the year 2010.

It’s not going to happen. We have slightly over four million people in treatment around the globe, but there are at least nine million who require treatment today, and millions of them won’t be reached by the end of 2010.

Prevention is not yet working. For every two people whom we put on anti-retroviral treatment so that they might live, there are five new infections. Prevention remains an elusive goal in the high-prevalence countries.

Stephen Lewis in Uganda with SLF Director of Programmes Aissatou Diajhaté.That leaves care. In this category, as well, the need greatly outstrips the response. Just think of the monumental numbers of orphans and grandmothers struggling to survive, let alone the vast host of people living with AIDS.

So this is where the Foundation comes in. This is where our work is indispensable. Sure, we’re a small organization, relatively speaking, with a limited reach. But in the absence of world governments meeting their commitments, the Foundation is a bright light, especially at the heart of community life.

Does it make a difference? Consider this anecdote:

The Music Therapy Community Clinic (MTCC) in South Africa uses music to help children work through their grief after losing their parents to AIDS. One four-year old boy named Thabo was brought to the hospital after his mother’s death and was inconsolable. He kicked, screamed and cried in anguish. Two music therapists sat beside him and gently began to weave the pitch of his cries into their songs. Eventually Thabo began to tentatively bang on a drum. The therapists accompanied his beat on their guitars, as if to signal that they would care for him — he was not alone. Thabo’s tears evaporated and a sweet smile enveloped his face. He’s now in pre-school with our support.

It’s so hard to make people understand that the story of this one little boy stands as a metaphor for thousands upon thousands of other girls and boys. It makes everything worth doing. It makes all the difference in the world to children whose lives are torn asunder by the virus.

Of course we can turn the tide on AIDS in Africa. It just takes your help, sprinkled with a touch of imagination and love.

Too maudlin; too unrealistic? Just ask Thabo.


p.s. Check out our World AIDS Day e-mail message online

p.s. To donate to the Stephen Lewis Foundation, call 1-888-203-9990 ext.0 or donate online.

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ONE DAY ONLY: Mile Matching Day!

ONE DAY ONLY: Aeroplan will match every mile donated to SLF on Dec.1st
For one day only
, Aeroplan will match every mile donated to the Stephen Lewis Foundation through their Beyond Miles programme. On December 1, 2009World AIDS Day – donate your miles online and make a difference for communities in Africa.

Donated Aeroplan Miles make our work possible. By using Aeroplan Miles to offset costs of flights, hotels and car rentals, we are able to allocate more funds directly to the grassroots HIV/AIDS organizations we fund.


In March 2010, your miles will bring together Canadian and African grandmothers at an African Grandmothers’ Gathering in Swaziland. For the first time, grannies from SLF-funded projects in 15 countries will come together in Africa to share their experiences, build relationships and forge a strong network of grandmother activists. We will use donated miles to facilitate the travel of both African and Canadian grandmothers to Swaziland. Help us raise 2.5 million miles on December 1st to make this Grandmothers’ Gathering a reality!


To date, Aeroplan and its members have contributed nearly 30 million miles to the Stephen Lewis Foundation! Since 2006, we have used donated miles to support projects in 15 African countries. Donated miles have enabled us to bring the voices of African grassroots leaders to the forefront, create partnerships through our mentorship programme, send our field representatives to see the projects firsthand, and to bring together community workers to share strategies and experiences with psychosocial counselling, orphan care and home-based health care. Thank you so much for making this possible!

Help us spread the word by telling your friends and family and linking to our Aeroplan donation page!

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Dare to skydive!

Sheena McDonald dares to dive

Congrats to York University student Sheena McDonald for daring to dive! After taking a day-long skydiving course, Sheena did a solo jump from 5,000 feet. She achieved her personal goal – now help her reach her fundraising goal.  Check out her profile page and sponsor her online now!

Sheena after her jump

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Reflections from the Mahjong-a-thon

Victoria Mahjong-a-thon players

Victoria Mahjong-a-thon players

Happy chatter and the clacking of Mahjong tiles in a comfortable, affluent Victoria neighbourhood is a far cry from families torn apart by AIDS in Africa.

The Stephen Lewis Foundation, well known for its humanitarian work with families and communities in Africa struggling with HIV/AIDS, has put out a nationwide challenge to all Canadians to do something daring to ‘help turn the tide of AIDS in Africa’.

Responding to that challenge a few friends (seniors and grandmothers) decided to play Mahjong for 12 hours as their dare.

On Wednesday morning, October 21st. at 6.45 a.m., while it was still dark outside, we gathered at the home of one of us ready for a full day ahead. The coffee was ready and promptly at 7 a.m the Mahjong mAIDS (as we called ourselves for the dare) began our marathon. There were 15 of us prepared to play, some for longer periods, some for shorter but all enthusiastic about the cause. We had canvassed supporters and hoped to raise $2,500.

The day passed quickly as we attempted different hands – Windy Dragons, Three Great Scholars, Chop Suey, Imperial Jade. There would be a small prize for anyone who could get Nine United Sons; nobody did!   We took turns to play, have a bowl of soup, rest and return but play went on continuously for 12 hours …….. and while we played our spouses were making dinner for us at another location.

How fortunate we are in the comfort of our environment. How often do we take the time to think of those whose children have died of AIDS and are now bringing up their grandchildren under harsh conditions? We took a little time to support those grandmothers and the work of Stephen Lewis and the Foundation. Will you take a little time to support them too? To date we have raised just over $4,500. You could help us make that total higher still by visiting and clicking on ‘Find or Sponsor Someone’. Type in first name ‘Averil’ and make a donation.

Join us and Dare to Remember.

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ADTR mini-movement at Simon Fraser University

Rochelle TuckerWhat started as a class project quickly turned into a mini-movement at Burnaby’s Simon Fraser University. And no one is more surprised than Rochelle Tucker, the professor of health science behind it all.

As Tucker tells it, each year of the four years she has taught her first year health science course focusing on AIDS in Africa, students would ask “What can we do? We have to do something.”

This year, the light bulb went on when she first read about the A Dare to Remember campaign in a Stephen Lewis Foundation newsletter. “I immediately thought ‘student engagement’,” she says.

Engagement is an understatement. Her students were mobilized.

When Tucker dared them to participate, they agreed, given that she would, too.

But that wasn’t the extent of it. Students outside of the class were inspired, too. Even professors signed up to participate, with one Dare resulting in a meeting of the deans— all of them attired in clown costumes.

Across campus, on any given day, students could be found busking, dancing a tango, selling 400 homemade cookies and jumping into the ocean.

Incidentally, Tucker stayed true to her Dare—dressing up as a superhero every day of the week. (She has been Wonder Woman, Incredible Hulk, Super Ro (a play on her name) and Captain Condom.)

And her fund-raising efforts have also been somewhat heroic. What started as an admirable goal of $4,500 has been surpassed three times. And now that they’ve passed their $15,000 goal, the sky’s the limit.

“We want to raise as much as we possibly can,” she says.

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Daring to get fit…

For most of us, on the best of days, getting in that daily workout can be a small challenge. For Laura Smallwood, an environmental analyst with the Canadian International Development Agency in Ottawa, it’s even more so: she has MS.

So it’s no small feat that Smallwood has joined FIT Club as her A Dare to Remember challenge. She’s one of five women in the CIDA office that are participating in the get-fit club.

Smallwood says she’s been contributing to charities for years, but was particularly drawn to the Foundation’s recent fund-raising effort, because, it “gets you out of your comfort zone,” she says with a laugh.

To date, the group has raised over $2,000—about 200% above their initial goal.

Smallwood, who is originally from Brampton and graduated from Carleton University’s School of Public Policy before joining CIDA four years ago, says she’s been sticking to her Dare of riding her exercise bike four times a week for 45 minutes. Occasionally, she’ll add sit-ups.

Her top tip for getting donations? Individualized e-mails to her network of friends, followed by updates every couple of weeks.

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Daring to go vegetarian for a week…

“I’ve had meals of just meat,” jokes Jamie Masse, 22,  in explaining his decision to become a vegetarian for one week for his A Dare to Remember challenge.

“It’s not fun,” he says wryly on day five of his feat. “It’s been a shock to the system.”

Perhaps that’s why his friends and contacts so eagerly supported his efforts—on the first day he reached out to them via an e-mail blast, he surpassed his $500 fund-raising goal. He’s since upped it to $1,000.

Masse, 22, grew up in Windsor and moved to Kingston to attend St. Lawrence College’s practical nursing program four years ago. He’s now the recreational leader at the city’s Boys and Girls Club, responsible for planning after-school programming for kids aged 6 to 12.

With the extension of the campaign, and a little goading by a friend, he’s decided to add another phase to his venture into “green”:  He will demonstrate how to make a vegetarian meal (he’s considering tabouli, a Lebanese salad dish) decked out in an ‘80s tracksuit and fake mustache, which will be filmed and uploaded to YouTube.

And while Masse admits that he will not give up his meat-eating ways, he is considering some dietary adjustments.

“I had no problem sinking my teeth into a delicious prosciutto sandwich,” he says after the completion of his Dare. “However,  I have since decided to try to eat more exclusive vegetarian meals. At this point, I’m thinking about two days a week.”

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Now that’s daring…

Gary Dobko wears a wetsuit and waterwings for his dare For his dare, Calgary, AB resident Gary Dobko donned a wetsuit and waterwings everywhere he went for a week. “Wearing the wetsuit for a week was really interesting,” said Gary, after completing his dare. “I ended up getting some weird looks and having some interesting conversations.”

Gary exceeded his $500 fundraising goal, raising $538 — congrats!

See what other challenging tasks people are taking on for A Dare to Remember by checking out the featured dares section at

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George Stroumboulopoulos takes part in A Dare to Remember!

George Stroumboulopoulos is participating in A Dare to Remember!

George Stroumboulopoulos is participating in A Dare to Remember!


The votes are in! Viewers of The Hour dared George Stroumboulopoulos to wear less black, don a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey and to take figure skating lessons… so he’s doing all three! Check out his profile page online and watch The Hour next week to see die-hard Habs fan George get skating lessons from Olympic figure skating champion Kurt Browning while wearing a dreaded Leafts jersey. Sponsor George’s dare today!

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