Author Archives: SPIDER WOMAN


Please join us for a Virtual Fundraiser for The Stephen Lewis Foundation’s (SLF) Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign. This event is brought to you by Oomama, one of the 150 Worldwide Groups raising funds for the SLF. We will be hosting a Zoom Presentation on May 16, 2024 at 2:00pm ET (Noon MST). Our speaker is Ingrid Janssen, a horticulturist, speaker, blogger and master gardener. “Gardening can be more difficult as we age but that doesn’t mean we need to give it up. We may need to rethink how we garden and use tools and techniques which allow us to continue to enjoy gardening in our golden years.” If you would like to join us for this Zoom Presentation, the following link, which will take you to the SLF Site to register: . A Donation of $20 or more will get you a Charitable Donation Tax Receipt and your registration for the Zoom presentation. Registered participants will get a link to the live stream event on May 15 and a link to the recorded event after it has occurred.

The Agenda for the event is as follows: 2:00 PM Call Opens / 2:10 PM Introductions / 2:15 PM Presentation  / 3:00 PM Q&A / 3:15 PM Closing (depending on questions).

Click on the following link to register at:

Stride to Turn the Tide Stephen Lewis Foundation (SLF) 2024

During June, Grandmothers’ groups across Canada are once again participating in the Stride to fundraise for our sister Grandmothers in Africa, who are supported by the SLF Community Based Organizations. We all have daily activities and hobbies that can be used in the Ujamaa Grandmas Stride this year by

  • being creative – knitting, sewing, crafting, quilting
  • being active – walk, swim, bike, hike, run
  • being busy in our home preparing meals or with housework

If you do any of the above, or others, we’d love to have you join us: click on this link: Stride to Turn the Tide 2024. Virtual movements are calculated so that 1hr activity = 5 km.

Members of our team are encouraged to ask for sponsorships or make a donation to the Ujamaa Grandmas team by clicking on the following: Stride to Turn the Tide 2024 and choosing the DONATE button. Many of us are shy to ask others to sponsor us. We all know that there are great needs for our Grandmothers in Africa. There is a ‘sponsor me’ email on the Stride site – adapt it to your comfort level to ask for sponsorship. Or, if you prefer, just make a donation to the Ujamaas’ team.

Our goals are to raise $6,000 and to virtually ‘walk’ 2,000 km — last year we raised $7,722.25, by asking our families and friends to sponsor us. The grand total we’ve raised since we started in 2020 was $45,007!!! That has gone a long way to help the Community Based Organizations in Africa who support their grandmothers.

Please register before May 24th. We will begin on June 1st until the 30th.

Jan Geggie, Team Captain

UJAMAA GRANDMAS Crochet and Knit group

We now have a Ujamaa Grandmas Crochet and Knit group. The purpose of the group is to build relationships as we create products for BAGS, BABIES & BEYOND in the community.

The group provides opportunities to improve skills, share ideas, build excitement and be inspired by the work of our fellow makers. Currently the group meets on the first Tuesday of the month 1:00-3:00 pm.

Currently, most of our members are in south Calgary. As the group grows, members will decide what works best for the group in terms of timing, location and activity. The Accessories and Yarn Custodians are members of the group.  We miss our makers from the north so if you live in the north and wish to participate, there is potential for a north meeting location. If you have been a maker, or if you would like to become a maker for UJAMAA GRANDMAS and you are interested in joining us or have questions, feel free to contact us by email at handcrafts@ujamaagrandmas.comattention Mary-Anna Louise Kovar

S.AB Liaison to Stephen Lewis Foundation – May 2024 Report

SLF appreciate any updates sent to them. Our campaign manager Suko can be reached at Suko answers emails on Monday and Thursdays so if you need an answer quickly, please indicate it is urgent.

Pride Parade
The SLF will be walking in the Toronto Pride parade this year, as well as hosting a booth in the Toronto Street Fair. There will be an event in the office for Campaign members who are interested in deepening their understanding about their work with LGBTQ organizations. There may be a virtual component if enough interest is expressed.
They are happy for volunteers to walk in the parade.

National Grandparents Day September 8 2024
The slogan “we will not rest until they can rest” will be used to unify messaging. The SLF will prepare designs for groups to print locally and hang on their clotheslines, graphics, statistics, quotes and photos from the International Grandmothers Gathering.

SLF programs team is working to make a QR code that can be printed on a T-shirt that would take people to the webpage with more information and a donation link. The team is also looking at the possibility of involving community led partners to celebrate Grandparents Day. The SLF will provide key messages, talking points and a press release.
The primary goals for this initiative are to raise awareness, recruit members into the Campaign and amplify partners voices.

Africa Trip
At the March meeting, Uganda and Tanzania were identified as countries to be visited on the trip next spring. This has been re-evaluated as there has been escalating violence in Uganda against LGBTQ people in Uganda. The anti-homosexuality bill was passed there fairly recently. One of the Ugandan partners SMUG (sexual minorities Uganda) has had their charitable registration revoked by the government and are accused of promoting homosexuality and their operations are at risk.
Due to the violence and turbulent political climate and the fact that allies of LGBTQ organizations may also be targeted, the plan to visit has been changed.

SLF is now looking at South Africa and Eswatini instead. To reduce travel time and cost, 2 countries in close proximity have been chosen and Tanzania has been removed from the itinerary. The total travel time will be about 3 weeks. The time period is potentially May 31-June 21 2025 to avoid religious holidays and the rainy season.

Trip capacity will be 20 members of the Grandmothers to Grandmothers campaign. The organization will work with the GRLs to create a regional process of selecting participants.
In addition to travel and cost considerations, interested travellers should also take into account that participating in this trip comes with a commitment of pre-departure meetings, activities and post travel presentations to share learning and impact within regions. Participants commit to giving presentations for a year after returning from their travels.

A trip planning committee is being formed of SLF staff members, country leads from South Africa and Eswatini and 2-3 members of the G to G campaign. A call for committee members will be in the April Granny bulletin.

A cost estimate for those travelling should be available in the next few weeks. An important thing for prospective travellers to consider is their health, pre-existing conditions and travel endurance.

Speakers Bureau
More updates next month.

Events in Southern Alberta
The Mountain Grannies Chilli supper was a great success, sold out and delicious!
Hat Grannies in Medicine Hat raised over $11,000 at their fabric sale this weekend.
Red Deer Fabric sale was April 21 and the Calgary Ujamaa Grandmas is scheduled for May 5-7.

Provincial Gathering
We hope to provide billets for any out-of-town guests who are attending the Gathering in Sept. If you are able & would like to provide a bed for 1 or 2 nights for an out-of-town guest from one of the other grandmother groups in Alberta, please RSVP to Judy at BEFORE THE END OF MAY.”
Thanks so much.

Think that’s all for now,
Yours in solidarity,
Judy Howe

Education Committee ~ May 2024 Report

In 2004, Ellen Monaghan decided to make purses and sell them at craft fairs as a way to raise money for the Stephen Lewis Foundation. Stephen Lewis was very much in the news at that time, as the UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa and had brought world attention to the crisis unfolding in Africa due to the HIV/AIDS epidemic

In 2005, Ellen’s friend, Leslie Buckle, a knitter and felting friend, joined Ellen. These two women made both fabric and felted purses to sell at an event sponsored by the Mennonite Central Committee called Glimmers of Hope. Stephen Lewis was the keynote speaker. After his speech, most of the purses were sold. During the summer of 2005, Ellen and Leslie sold the purses at the Millarville market. In the fall, several friends joined these two women, and more items were created. During the Christmas season, purses were sold at the Millarville Christmas Market and raised approximately $2000 for the Stephen Lewis Foundation.

In 2008, Ellen suggested the first Fabric and Yarn Sale. A quote from Ellen- “Although some members rolled their eyes when I suggested the Fabric Sale we did try it and have never looked back”.

In 2010, Ellen Monaghan and Yvonne Way attended the Swaziland Gathering of Grandmothers from across Canada and Africa. The African grandmothers shared the challenges they faced, and the Canadian grandmothers learned how they could increase efforts to stem the tide of HIV/AIDS in Africa.

During the past 20 years, Ellen has continued to contribute her creativity and energy to the work of the Ujamaa Grandmas. Ellen was the first president of Ujamaa Grandmas in 2010 and the first Alberta Advisor to the SLF. The beautiful book bags that Ellen created for many years for the Bags, Babies and Beyond sales were a yearly hit for many.
Ellen worked diligently to prepare for a planned Fashion with Purpose Show which was originally planned for May 2022. Due to COVID, the fashion show was not able to go ahead as planned. Instead, a Pop-Up Boutique Sale of garments was held on September 9, 2022, at McDougall United Church. Everyone, judging by the many compliments about the promotional video, left with a new appreciation of the damage Fast Fashion is doing to our world. The sale generated $2,800 for the Grandmother’s Campaign.
Most recently Ellen has been working on “Climate Change Fashion Show with a Twist” which will launch in September. This show is designed to get people talking and then hopefully acting and will tell stories of climate change through vests created by Ellen. The vests have original graphics, many of them humorous, and will be used only for story telling rather than sold. The Show, as a fundraiser by donation, will be available to any interested groups of 25 people or smaller.

Leslie Buckle has been a constant source of wisdom and knowledge since she began working with Ellen to produce purses for the original sales. Leslie has held a variety of positions throughout the past twenty years. Including facilitating the Ujamaa Grandma’s Book Club, co-chairing the Bake sale associated with the Justice Film Festival, a member of the nominating committee, and President of Ujamaa Grandma’s from 2011 to 2013.

Thank you to both Ellen and Leslie for the past 20 years of dedication to the work of Ujamaa Grandmas and supporting the African grandmothers.

Submitted by the Education and Awareness Committee
(Anne Taylor, Barb Spear and Susan Plesuk)

 This Child Will Be Great

BOOK CLUB April  2024 Selection

This month our  book is This Child Will Be Great, a memoir by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Sirleaf shares the story of her rise to power, including her early childhood; her experiences with abuse, imprisonment, and exile; and her fight for democracy and social justice. She reveals her determination to succeed in multiple worlds, from her studies in the United States to her work as an international bank executive, to campaigning in some of Liberia’s most desperate and war-torn villages and neighborhoods. It is the tale of an outspoken political and social reformer who fought the oppression of dictators and championed change. By telling her story, Sirleaf encourages women everywhere to pursue leadership roles at the highest levels of power, and gives us all hope that we can change the world.

Sirleaf became the first elected head of state of an African country (in this case, Liberia, in 2006) She  won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011.

Education and Awareness Committee – April 2024

We want to make sure all UJAMAA GRANDMAS members are aware of the excellent publications that are available on the Stephen Lewis Foundation website .

You can subscribe to receive interesting updates from the Foundation as well as receive the Grassroots publication as well as the Granny Bulletin. The Granny Bulletin highlights the projects that specifically support the grandmothers in sub-Saharan Africa and is available on the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign website.

Here is the link to the February Granny Bulletin .

Submitted by the Education and Awareness Committee 

Fabric & Yarn Sale Drop Off and Shopping

DONATION DROP OFFS AT Garrison Curling Club
Saturday, April 27 from 1:00 to 4:00 pm
Tuesday, April 30 from 11:00  am to 4:00 pm
Wednesday, May 1 from 11:00 am to  4:00 pm

Friday May 3
Tickets are required for entry on Friday, May 3 ONLY. Tickets have a TIMED ENTRY to avoid overcrowding.  If space is available, walk-ins will be accepted after 3:00 pm.
There is a $2.00 online charge for Eventbrite Tickets for Friday Shopping.
Tickets go on sale at 8:00 am on Tuesday April 2.
To purchase tickets for Friday Shopping go to:

Saturday, May 4 and Sunday, May 6
You do not need to pre-purchase a ticket tp shop n these days.
There is a $2 charge at the door for entry.

Questions regarding  the fabric sale? Email

Be sure to share the poster with all your BFF – Best Fabric Friends. Fabric and Yarn 2024

Thanks everyone.
Dawn Bolger, F&Y Sale Coordinator

Burger’s Daughter

BOOK CLUB March  2024 Selection

Burger’s Daughter by Nadine Gordimer (winner  of the Nobel Prize for Literature) was published in 1979. This novel is modelled after real people involved in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa.

This is the moving story of the unforgettable Rosa Burger, a young woman from South Africa cast in the mold of a revolutionary tradition. Rosa tries to uphold her heritage handed on by martyred parents while still carving out a sense of self. Although it is wholly of today, Burger’s Daughter can be compared to those 19th century Russian classics that make a certain time and place come alive, and yet stand as universal celebrations of the human spirit.

Most of our books to date have been written by contemporary young, black African authors and we thought it would be interesting to go back to this earlier period in history.

AGM – Board Positions Open in May 2024

As mentioned in more details in the January E-News, we have a few Board Members stepping down as their terms are up in 2024.  The board is really just another committee that keeps Ujamaa Grandmas functioning as a non-profit throughout the year. The essential work done by our board members means we maintain our status as a not-for-profit entity in Alberta.  Members usually sign on for two years, but that is flexible.  Board members attend monthly Zoom meetings where information is shared and everyone works together to support each and every endeavor Ujamaa engages in.

Secretary Annette Koelwyn – no shorthand required.

Communications Coordinator Janice Lambert – monitors the email inbox and forwards them to the various committees, assembles their write-ups for the monthly newsletter, coordinates with the webmaster to update the UG website.  General computer skills are needed.
General Directors (1-2 people) – may act as a liaison to other committees or take a turn facilitating a monthly gathering.
You may have the interest and skills that would be a huge benefit to the workings of Ujamaa.  You may know someone – a family member, friends, or fellow member who could fill one of these roles.
If you are curious, interested or have any questions, I encourage you to start a conversation.  Please contact me through ATTN Carla.
And a sincere thank you to all of you for all you do.
For the Board of Directors Nominating Committee
Carla Lorfing, Vice-Chair

What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours

BOOK CLUB January  2024 Selection

 What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi is a collection of short stories and is cleverly built around the idea of keys, literal and metaphorical. The key to a house, the key to a heart, the key to a secret—Oyeyemi’s keys not only unlock elements of her characters’ lives, they promise further labyrinths on the other side.
Oyeyemi’s tales span multiple times and landscapes as they tease boundaries between coexisting realities. Is a key a gate, a gift, or an invitation?

Things Fall Apart

BOOK CLUB September 2023 Selection

Things Fall Apart by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe, was written in 1958 and is considered a classic in African literature and has inspired many African authors of today.
THINGS FALL APART tells two overlapping, intertwining stories, both of which center around Okonkwo, a “strong man” of an Ibo village in Nigeria.
The first  storiy traces Okonkwo’s fall from grace with the tribal world in which he lives, and in its classical purity of line and economical beauty it provides us with a powerful fable about the immemorial conflict between the individual and society.
The second story is as modern as the first is ancient, and elevates the book to a tragic plane,
 These twin dramas are perfectly harmonized, and they are modulated by an awareness capable of encompassing at once the life of nature, human history, and the mysterious compulsions of the soul.

Toufah: The Woman who Inspired an African #MeToo Movement

BOOK CLUB July 2023 Selection
An incandescent and inspiring memoir from a courageous young woman who, after she was forced to flee to Canada from her home in The Gambia, became the first woman to publicly call the country’s dictator to account for sexual assault—launching an unprecedented protest movement in West Africa.
Join us to share this powerful story. Toufah: The Woman who Inspired an African #MeToo Movement by Toufah Jallow with Kim Pittaway.

I Am a Girl From Africa

BOOK CLUB June 2023 Selection

Eizabeth Nyamayaro is from Zimbabwe. At the age of 8, she nearly died of starvation during a famine. Her rescue by a United Nations aid worker inspired her with a dream to work for the UN. This memoir recounts her early life in a small village and her career working for a variety of causes at the UN, including HIV/AIDS, child marriage, domestic violence, and women’t rights. It is an inspirational read.


BOOK CLUB May 2023 Selection

Glory is a new book from NoViolet Bulawayo, the award-winning author of the Booker-prize finalist We Need New Names.
NoViolet Bulawayo’s bold new novel follows the fall of the Old Horse, the long-serving leader of a fictional country, and the drama that follows for a rumbustious nation of animals on the path to true liberation.

Powered By Love

BOOK CLUB April 2023 Selection

Powered by Love is  the book written for the Stephen Lewis Foundation by Joanna Henry and Ilana Landsberg-Lewis. Many of us have this book but we thought it would be interesting to read it from cover to cover (instead of using it as a reference) and talk about it together.

How Beautiful We Were by Imbolo Mbue

BOOK CLUB February 2023 Selection

On February 24, we will be discussing the novel “How Beautiful We Were” by Cameroonian-American author Imbolo Mbue.

This book is about a fictional African village that is suffering from pollution and environmental degradation caused by an American oil company, and how they decided to fight back. We have also read Mbue’s previous novel, Behold the Dreamers, and loved it.

Unbowed by Wangari Maathai

BOOK CLUB January 2023 Selection

This month we will be  discussing Unbowed,  a memoir by Wangari Maathai, founder of the Green Belt Movement and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for her environmental and social justice work.

We are looking forward to what promises to be an inspirational life story.

This is a remarkable memoir of courage, faith, and the power of persistence; about one woman’s extraodinary journey from her childhood in rural Kenya to the world stage. “[Maathai’s] story provides uplifting proof of the power of perseverance–and of the power of principled, passionate people to change their countries and inspire the world.”

Behold the Dreamers 

BOOK CLUB November 2022 Selection

 Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue tells the  tale of a young couple from Cameroon who come to the US in search of a better life.Their precarious legal status makes their lives very difficult. Interestingly, the author portrays the struggles of their wealthy employer at the time of the 2008 stock market crash as well, and  in an empathetic manner. It’s a novel that’s hard to put down, so you would still have time to read it by November 11 if you’d like to join us! New members are always welcome. Just write to message@ujamaagrandmas.doc and we’ll send you the Zoom link.