On Sept. 6, 35 women, aged between 56 and 75, will be cycling through the Comox Valley on a three-day, 275 kilometer, journey from Campbell River to Victoria.
After months of training, these intrepid women will be taking part in the 13th annual Victoria Grandmothers for Africa Cycle Tour, riding in solidarity with the tireless African “gogos” who are raising their grandchildren, orphaned in the HIV and AIDS epidemic.
To date, the Cycle Tours have raised one million for the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign of the Stephen Lewis Foundation.
Two local women, Maxine Bowen and Sue Taylor, will be riding with the group. You can sponsor this amazing pair by visiting the Victoria Grandmothers for Africa website at www.victoriagrandmothersforafrica.ca.
Along their journey, SLF- associated grandmother groups provide the cyclists with meals, snacks and plenty of encouragement. The local Glacier Grannies will be providing lunch for the cyclists on Sept. 6 at an ocean-side property in Union Bay.
We expect the cyclists to arrive at about noon and all are invited to come and meet them, enjoy an alfresco lunch for $10, and cheer them on their way. If you plan to attend, please see our website, www.glaciergrannies.org for details, and our contact email address.
The campaign funds community-based organizations in the 15 African countries most affected by the HIV and AIDS epidemic.
Through these organizations, grandmothers are supported as they cope with their own grief, care for the physical and emotional needs of their orphaned grandchildren, start income-producing projects and ensure that their children attend school.
As their confidence has grown, these grandmothers have also become pivotal members of their communities, teaching others about HIV and AIDS prevention, treatment and care. This is particularly crucial as their grandchildren include girls and young women who are vulnerable to sexual exploitation and violence. These elderly women are now finding their voice and becoming strong advocates for their families and for the elderly.
On Sunday afternoon, the cyclists will be met and escorted to Centennial Square in Victoria by the mayor, Lisa Helps. They will be greeted at a Welcome Home event, featuring music from the Getting’ Higher Choir.
For more information on the Stephen Lewis Foundation, visit www.stephenlewisfoundation.org