The Grandmothers in Africa who are raising their AIDS orphaned grandchildren have hopes and dreams for those children. Canadian grandmothers share that vision and are working to help their African counterparts realize their dreams.
Like the African grandmothers, our vision for the children whose lives have been devastated by the AIDS pandemic is that they be healthy, happy and secure – that they have access to education and have a standard of living which goes beyond mere survival.
The African dolls which GranAurora makes in support of The Stephen Lewis Foundation represent this vision.
The reality is that too many children do not have enough food to eat and do not have access to health care. Sick and malnourished children are thin and listless. Their hair becomes thin and brittle and has a reddish cast. The dolls are well stuffed and healthy looking. They have bright, eager expressions and they have soft, thick black hair.
Many children are sad because their parents have died. Many are worried about what will happen to them if their grandmother dies too. Some have the responsibility for younger siblings even though they are still children themselves.
Our dolls all wear happy smiles and have a hopeful look.
Many African countries require shoes for school attendance. The dolls have shoes.
Many children live in poverty, unable to enjoy any of the little luxuries that most of us in Canada take for granted.
The girl dolls have hair ribbons, lace trimmed underwear, bracelets and gold earrings. The boy dolls have toys to play with.
Too many babies in Africa are born infected with HIV transmitted during the birth process. Drugs exist to prevent this from happening, but the neccessary drugs are too often unavailable to African mothers.
Our baby dolls represent the healthy infants that would be born if these drugs were as available in Africa as they are in developed countries.
Every time we complete a doll, we can imagine a real child somewhere in Africa who will have a better chance to become happy, healthy, secure, and educated. We can envision a time when the tide will be turned against AIDS and hope will replace despair in the heart of a grandmother.
The part we play in making the vision a reality is very small, but together thousands of Canadian grandmothers can make a difference.