Category Archives: INFORMATION


October was the month for the Bags, Babies and Beyond Sale. Total funds raised were approximately $45,000 (to be finalized soon)!!  Once again it was a hugely successful event due to the dedication and hard work of many volunteers, not only at the sale but throughout the year. Congratulations to all of you! The financial success of the sale means that we can help our African sisters in a way that translates into effective programs that make a real difference in their lives and the lives of younger family members.

The following week all members of UG were invited by the board to attend a Celebration and Appreciation afternoon, held instead of the regular North Gathering. This was to celebrate and recognize all of our amazing volunteers for their hard work and the many and varied skills which they contribute. We were pleased with how many attended this event.  We hope that it was an opportunity for members to relax, celebrate, visit, meet new people as well as enjoy the friendships we have made through volunteering with this very special group.

It was interesting to reflect on our present situation compared with my memories of our first ‘stand alone’ sale held in October 2006 when, to our surprise, we raised $6,000 and were sold out by noon!  No bank night deposit had been organized so the money was stored under my bed together with a samurai sword for protection! Since then we have grown in leaps and bounds to become the large and very effective group we are today. This has led to an inevitable need for more structure in the organization and members have worked hard to make this happen. This is a work in progress and I have been impressed by the willingness of members to respond to this need and to be open to it, while not losing sight of the many wonderful characteristics of Ujamaa Grandmas which include supporting each other and supporting the Foundation which does such great work.


We had a marvellous member congratulatory afternoon on October 24th at the North Gathering with sincere thanks to all members who had worked very hard for several of our recent events. And, of course, I want to thank those of you who were not able to attend. We had 2 exciting and gratifying announcements:

We have heard that the DeSonus Benefit Concerts held September 21st in Airdrie and September 22nd in Calgary were extremely successful, thanks to all of you who provided so many Silent Auction items. Ujamaa Grandmas were certainly generous!  Altho’ the amount of funds we will be receiving is approximately $5800.00, we have not heard what the final number is, as the University of Calgary has not finalized their accounting of the event.

And, the Bags, Babies and Beyond sale was again very successful!!! Although the figures have not been finalized, we raised close to $45,000 in such a short time on 2 days. Kudos to all the handcrafters, volunteers, cashiers and customers who have once again contributed so much to the Stephen Lewis Foundation and hence, our African Grandmothers.

We held an extension of the Bags, Babies and Beyond Sale on Saturday, October 26th at the Canadian Art Therapy Conference held at SAIT when we displayed our Ujamaa Grandmas posters, had our brochures available, and had several items from the sale available for those attending the conference. Many attendees were most interested in what Ujamaa Grandmas do, that there are over 240 Grandmothers to Grandmothers groups in Canada, and how the Stephen Lewis Foundation supports our African Grandmothers especially through the community-based organizations in Africa. We made $570 in approximately 2 hours!  Thanks especially to our Education and Awareness team, Anne Taylor and Susan Plesuk, for their time and efforts!

We continue to embrace new opportunities for Awareness, Nurturing and Fundraising. My heartfelt thanks, as always!



Once a month all the Grandmother Regional Liaisons meet together with SLF staff on a zoom
conference call. It is an opportunity to find out what is happening with the Foundation across the country and to share ideas. From the staff we hear the latest news and future plans for the Grandmothers Campaign.

At the October meeting there was discussion about the two monthly calls that are offered to us. The Grandmothers Campaign thematic Conference Calls are going really well with great
participation from groups across the country. The call on October 17th will be about speaking publicly and giving presentations about the Grandmothers Campaign, and the November 21st call will focus on strategies for recruiting younger members. If you have any ideas for future themes, please let me know.

The other monthly call is for new members or in fact any members who want to know more about the Campaign. This is an opportunity to have a conversation with staff to raise any concerns, ask questions, and give your own feedback. The calls are held every third Monday of the month so this month it is on the 21st of November.

All calls take place at 10:30 Mountain Time and are open to all. To RSVP and get the call in detail, email

I hope that you find this information helpful and that some of you are able to participate at some time.

Alison Longson


Reminder: Members from Education and Awareness are available for presentations to other groups you are involved with. Email

This month Education and Awareness highlights books about Africa and the challenges for African children impacted by HIV/AIDs. The four books listed below are all available at the Calgary Public Library.

A. One Hen: How one small loan made a big difference – Katie Smith Milway
This is the story of Kojo, a boy from Ghana who turns a small loan into a thriving farm and a livelihood for many. After his father died, Kojo had to quit school to help his mother collect firewood to sell at the market. When his mother receives a loan from some village families, she gives a little money to her son. With this tiny loan, Kojo buys a hen. A year later, Kojo has built up a flock of 25 hens. With his earnings Kojo is able to return to school. Soon Kojo’s farm grows to become the largest in the region. (Elementary school aged children)

B. The Heaven Shop – Deborah Ellis
The Heaven Shop is a novel that puts a very real face on the African AIDS pandemic, which has orphaned more than 11 million African children. Inspired by a young radio performer the author met during her research visit to Malawi, Binti Phiri is a compelling character that readers will never forget. (Ages 7-9)

C. Our Stories, Our Songs: African Children Talk about AIDs- Deborah Ellis
This is a collection of children’s stories dealing with poverty, loss as well as their new lives and hopes for the future. In the summer of 2003, Deborah Ellis traveled to Malawi and Zambia and met with children and teens whose lives have been touched by AIDS. In short, autobiographical vignettes, the young people, many of whom are orphans or living on the street, discuss their families, their favorite pastimes, their fears, and their dreams. (Grade 6 and up)

D. We are all the Same: The story of a boy’s courage and a mother’s love – James Wooten
This is the story of a courageous South African boy’s fettle with AIDs but also focuses on the failure of South African leaders to confront the AIDs epidemic in their country. ABC senior news correspondent Wooten tells the story of the bond between Nkosi and his birth mother, Daphne, who gave him up for the sake of his health and who subsequently succumbed to AIDS, and his white adoptive mother, Gail, who made his illness her number one priority. (16 and older)


Our Board of Directors extends an invitation to members to attend our Board meetings. We are grateful to the Marda Loop ATB at 2140 34th Avenue SW  for the spacious room which they have provided.  Public parking is free within a block; note the times of parking on the street.  Please let us know if you’d like to attend, through We look forward to hearing from you.

WHAT: Ujamaa Grandmas Board Meeting
Saturday, January 5, 2019 from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM
Thursday, January 31, 2019 from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM
Thursday, February 21, 2019 from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM
Thursday, March 23, 2019 from 1:00 to 3:00 PM
Thursday, April 18, 2019 from 1:00 to 3:00 PM
Thursday, May 16, 2019 from 1:00 to 3:00 PM
Saturday, June 15, 2019 from 1:00 to 3:00 PM
Thursday, July 11, 2019 from 1:00 to 3:00 PM
Thursday, August 8, 2019 from 1:00 to 3:00 PM
Saturday, September 7, 2019 from 1:00 to 3:00 PM
Thursday, October 3, 2019 from 1:00 to 3:00 PM
Thursday, October 31, 2019 from 1:00 to 3:00 PM
Saturday, November 30, 2019 from 1:00 to 3:00 PM
WHERE: Marda Loop ATB at 2140 34th Avenue SW