‘Ujamaa’ is defined in my Oxford English Reference Dictionary as ‘a system of self-help village’ established in Tanzania in the 1960s.  From Our (UG) History available on our website, we learn that ‘Ujamaa’ is a Swahili word representing concepts such as ‘working together’, ‘extended family’ or ‘community’.  This became so apparent during the past month as we struggled with the loss of close to $10,000 at our BAGS BABIES & BEYOND fundraising event. So many members attempted to make sense of how this could have happened, sometimes wanting to blame the new technology we had used for credit and debit transactions.  This was not the case at all as we now realize that several human errors occurred sequentially, resulting in the non-processing of transactions. This was devastating to those who had handcrafted and produced superbly unique products, and to all of us who are dedicated to providing funds to the Stephen Lewis Foundation for our African grandmother sisters.

We have recovered $6,523.40 to date through ‘working together’ using various avenues. We notified our ‘extended family/friends’ of what had happened.  The Chair of the Handcrafts Committee wrote a Letter to the Editor at the Calgary Herald, which was published October 27th, to alert the public. She also set up a GoFundMe page.  Our Publicity Director contacted the CBC for an interview which I gave on October 26th. Our special thanks to Angela Knight of CBC for updating listeners weekly.  We posted notices. We posted on Facebook and on our website. We asked everyone to check their statements to determine if items they had purchased actually were. The ‘community’ of our members and the public in general responded magnificently!  Some of the funds we’ve recovered are from donations from members and the public. We are so thankful for this generosity.

A Root Cause Review is presently being conducted by two of our members.  They have begun to interview many who were involved with the payments to determine how we will prevent a situation recurring in the future.  The process being used meets industry standards. The Board will also establish an Incident Reporting Plan so that we are able to communicate more efficiently when an urgent response is needed.

Thank you all for your efforts, working together as extended family would in times of need and engaging our community.  We approved donating $35,000 to the Stephen Lewis Foundation at our last Board meeting which will be so appreciated and well-used in Africa!

World AIDS Day is held every December 1st – today!  The session on ‘Progress Against the HIV Epidemic: Is the End in Sight’ was summarized in the November e-News by Marilyn Simmons.  The session was presented by Dr. Christine Hughes, BSc Pharmacy, PharmD (Professor in the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and a Clinical Pharmacist with the Northern Alberta HIV program).  If you haven’t already read her PowerPoint presentation and would like current information, please see the HIV Presentation, GANG Meeting, September 29, 2018.

May you enjoy the coming Holiday Season.