Have you ever asked yourselves, in the aftermath of those well-intentioned New Year’s resolutions, “Are we (Ujamaa Grandmas) doing enough?” The numerous successes over the past year tell me “YES”. We continue to make a difference in our organization, our community, and for the Stephen Lewis Foundation (SLF) and hence our African grandmother sisters.

In 2019 alone, Ujamaa Grandmas donated $104,500 to the SLF!!! These were funds raised through many events and donations. Looking back in my 2019 calendar, Ujamaa Grandmas were very busy in so many ways. I hope that most of you were able to participate in and/or support what we do, in one way or another. 2020 is exceptionally promising with (once again) many creative ideas that are coming to fruition. At the South and North Gatherings in January, we’ve ‘oohed and aahed’ over the stunning Climate Change Project garments modelled. Mark your calendars and ‘Save the Date’ of Saturday afternoon, April 4th to attend the Fashion Show. Invite your family and friends, who will be equally impressed, and will hopefully want to purchase a garment or two.

At the first Fabric and Yarn Sale (April 22nd to 26th) meeting this past week, a great deal of planning occurred, as this is a huge (but satisfying in terms of funds raised) undertaking. We need hundreds of volunteers to make this event the success it always is. We are waiting to hear if we will be invited to assist at the SAIT Spring Convocation – again, a wonderful and fun way to raise funds. My heart always expands with pride for students who have worked so hard to graduate.  And who knows what other creative ways we will raise funds in the coming year? The energy and dedication of our members are heartwarming!

There are openings for positions on committees and on the Board for 2020-2021. See the e-blast sent out last month.

In the SLF 2018 Year in Review “Powered by Leadership”, there are many heartwarming reports of what our African grandmother sisters are accomplishing. We have several copies of the report and if you would like to read about the amazing women we support, write to borrow a copy. I’ll quote from one section of “Women’s Leadership”:

“Recently, 40 Community-based Organizations (supported by the SLF) reported that they work with 50,000 people and their families during home-based care visits. The majority of the visits, as well as the organizations themselves, are run by older women who often volunteer their time while living with HIV in their own families and communities. Since the beginning of the pandemic, they’ve shown breathtaking leadership in ensuring that people living with HIV have access to healthcare, support and information”. 

I believe that Ujamaa Grandmas members have shown “breathtaking leadership” in supporting the SLF. Once again, I thank all of you who continue to make a difference in our organization, our community, and for the SLF African Grandmothers they support.


As I write this on December 26th, the tinsel and the cookie crumbs are starting to settle as the newly opened gifts are waiting to be read, eaten, or placed in a special place to be admired. All of those gifts we so lovingly gave or received are much more than the item themselves. Hidden within the gift wrap and bows was something we could not see – only feel. It was the gift of love. And that is a lot like volunteering.

Volunteering comes in so many different forms, even just within our Ujamaa Grandmas. Some of our volunteers lend their muscle or their artful eye, or maybe their spare room for storage or their administrative skills. Others give freely of their creative abilities or their leadership skills or their business savvy, and others simply their enthusiasm! But the connecting thread that runs through each and every act of volunteerism is the gift that is given – the gift of love.

And we can turn that around as well! The gift of volunteering that Ujamaa Grandmas allows us is one of the best gifts we could receive, along with the friendships that are made in the process. We are all extraordinarily fortunate to have found Ujamaa Grandmas, the Stephen Lewis Foundation and each other!

Wishing you all a wonderful year, one filled with continued exciting and personally fulfilling opportunities to give and receive through volunteering. Many thanks for all that you do to keep Ujamaa Grandmas thriving and able to continue the support of our African sisters through the work of the Stephen Lewis Foundation.

Yvonne Way
Board Member/Connections Team


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
Thursday, January 30, 2020 from 1:00 to 3:00 PM
Saturday, February 29, 2020 from 1:00 to 3:00 PM
Thursday, April 2, 2020 from 1:00 to 3:00 PM
Thursday, April 30, 2020 from 1:00 to 3:00 PM
WHERE: Marda Loop ATB at 2140 34th Avenue SW


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)