Aid the AIDS fundraiser

The Theresa Foundation’s Mnjale had a fundraiser to raise money for AIDS

By: Beatrice Broderick-Auger

The Theresa Foundation held a fundraiser for the Grandmothers of Mnjale last Friday, at the Westmount Park United Church, where many performers took the stage and entertained a room filled with people who supported the cause against AIDS.

The aim of this foundation is to inform people of the AIDS/HIV pandemic that is greatly affecting countries of Africa. The Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign is a way for Canadian grandmothers to help and support African grandmothers who have to raise their grandchildren following the death of their own children from AIDS.

Therese Bourque-Lambert is an active member of the West Hill Grandmothers Group in Notre-Dame-de-Grace (NDG) who is associated with the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign of the Steven Lewis Foundation.

The West Hill Grandmothers Group decided they wanted to find a village of their own to partner with, in addition to their Steven Lewis Foundation work. A Canadian friend of Mme. Bourque-Lambert, Roger Roome, who previously worked in Africa, helped her choose Mnjale from a large selection of African villages whose women were raising grandchildren orphaned by AIDS.  Mme. Bourque-Lambert’s involvement connected Dawson to Mnjale, Malawi.

Over the past three years, the Grandmothers have established a very personal relationship to this village and its inhabitants, providing blankets, pigs, chickens, watering cans, fertilizer, a bicycle and, most recently, school fees for a grandson. The communication between Montreal and Mnjale has been through Mr. Roome and Sister Gisele, a nun stationed close to the village.

Last Friday’s event was the first of what organizers hope will be an annual fundraising for the African grandmothers. The evening got off to a lively start with The Good Buddies. The spirit and love of the grandmothers was transmitted to the audience through the group’s folk music.

Later on, Alice Abracen recited a very touching poem recalling her experiences of visiting Mnjale with images which were shown to the crowd. Her performance was very lively. Her brother, Isaac Abracen, played guitar and sang soulfully, accompanied by the vocalist Kyla Smith.  Grandma Therese listened with obvious pride.

Other Dawson performers included Laura Mitchell, an English teacher who, along with Debra Kirshenbaum, an actress, read a very poignant story, and Barb Kelly who recited a few of her emotional poems.

The Foundation had a guest appearance by Sophie Doyle, a young singer with a strong voice as well as a great sense of humour. She took the stage announcing that she would sing her own material but had nothing on Africa or good deeds, only heartbreak and cute boys. A student at Concordia, Sophie, performed at the Vinyl Cafe with Stuart Maclean. She recently sang the national anthem with Sam Roberts at another fundraiser.

Mme Bourque-Lambert was very emotional about the great turnout. “There are a lot more people than we expected.” The success of the evening was mainly due to the devotion of three generations of Mme. Bourque-Lambert’s family, two of them here at Dawson. She is the mother of Ann Lambert, English department and Dawson Theatre Collective teacher, who in turn, is the mother of Alice and Isaac Abracen, students at Dawson. They are the Dawson “dots.”

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