Acclaimed author and photojournalist visits Camrose

By Mark Crown, Camrose Canadian

 Inspiration can come in many forms, but in Camrose on Sept. 8 it came most clearly in the form of a grandmother.
Paola Gianturco an acclaimed author and photojournalist spoke Saturday at the Grandmothers to Grandmothers provincial gathering, hosted in Camrose at the Faith and Life Chapel in the University of Alberta, Augustana Campus.
Gianturco shared her thoughts and works from her newest book Grandmother Power: A global phenomenon, a byproduct of half a decade of traveling the world interviewing grandmothers who have taken up the fight for social justice in their countries.
Gianturco has announced that all author royalties for sales of Grandmother Power will be donated to the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s Grandmothers to Grandmothers campaign, which benefits grandmothers in 15 African countries who are raising children orphaned by AIDS.
“I was so impressed as I traveled throughout Africa that time, with many grandmothers I met who were raising their grandchildren (after their children had died of AIDS),” she said. “That I left thinking, the future of this continent is in the hands of the grandmothers.”
Gianturco shared stories of grandmothers she met in India, who learned solar engineering in order to provide light and power to their villages and of grandmothers Argentina who are teaching children to love books again after the devastating dictatorship, which in part targeted literacy.
The Grandmothers to Grandmothers campaign is relatively young, having started in 2006.
“In 2006 100 grandmothers from Africa came to Toronto to meet with 200 Canadian grandmothers,” Gianturco said. “It was the first ever international grandmothers gathering...there the African grandmothers described the challenges of raising children who had been orphaned by AIDS and the women cried together, and they made plans to tackle the challenges of raising those children.”
Gianturco explained that the Canadian grandmothers made three promises at the Toronto convention: to raise funds, to educate Canadians about the pandemic and to advocate for better medicine.
“Today there are over 240 grandmother groups across Canada,” Gianturco said. “In the last six years they have raised more than $13.5 million... and I can tell you from my own experience that the African women have put it to good use.”
Gianturco has committed to blog every saturday on www.globalgrandmotherpower.com, sharing reflections about activist grandmothers and issues. She said that grandmothers are having a profound impact on the world.
“I have found that changing the world isn’t all that they (and the Canadian grandmothers) are doing,” she said. “As they change the world they are modeling behaviors that teach our grandchildren values and behaviours worth noting: collaboration, compassion, patience, perseverance and resilience.”

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