Dear Sisters in Africa,
Ten years ago, a group of Kitchener-Waterloo grandmothers came together in support of the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign. We named our group OMAS SISKONA (Grandmothers Together) of Kitchener-Waterloo.
We heard Stephen and Ilana speak of your lives and your stories of strength and love and we knew that there were many ways that we could support you. They shared with us your situation where, in spite of your grief and your limited, or lack of, resources you had stood up to the challenges you faced. You vowed to rebuild your communities for yourselves and your grandchildren and leave for all, a better Africa. Over the years we have welcomed grandmothers from Africa to Canada and have listened spellbound, and in awe, to your stories of struggle, triumph, love and resilience.
Since then, we have worked together on many projects not only to raise money for your cause, but also to bring awareness to people in our area and in Canada, of your tireless and incredible work in your fight against HIV and AIDS, and for justice and your basic human rights.
Some of us have been lucky enough to come to Africa and to visit some of your community projects, where we were welcomed with joy, love and hospitality. We saw first-hand the amazing gains that you have made and met children who are healthy, happy and studying hard in school to achieve the dreams they can now have because of your strength and courage. You also showed us how much more there is to be done and that you are determined to continue advocating for justice and your human rights.
Each time we have met, you have shared your stories and expressed your gratitude and love, which we are happy to receive; however, we must tell you that what we have given you is no more than what you have given us. Because of you we have become stronger in our own communities. Your gratitude makes us grateful for all that we have, and makes us want to share with others. Seeing your courage gives us courage. Seeing your hope gives us hope.
We are inspired by your lives. You have given us a vision of a better world in which we are more the same than different.
As our grandmothers’ group moves into its second decade, we will keep our promise to work in solidarity with you, our sisters in Africa, as long as there is a need. We will be here to walk beside you and will continue to be inspired by you as you journey from being invisible to being invincible. We will not rest until you can rest.
Yours in solidarity,
The grandmothers and others of OMAS SISKONA of Kitchener-Waterloo