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Charity work viewed first-hand

Paxie Vreede, a retired Nanaimo physician, left for Africa Friday to check on the progress of projects funded by donations the Stephen Lewis Foundation that support grandmothers who are raising children orphaned by AIDS. - CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin
Paxie Vreede, a retired Nanaimo physician, left for Africa Friday to check on the progress of projects funded by donations the Stephen Lewis Foundation that support grandmothers who are raising children orphaned by AIDS.
— image credit: CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin

A Nanaimo grandmother is touring Africa this week to see Canada’s charity dollars at work.

Paxie Vreede, a member of Nan Go Grannies, is one of 22 Canadians chosen by the Stephen Lewis Foundation to travel to Africa and see first-hand how fundraising dollars have helped the fight against AIDS.

The foundation and its grandmothers-to-grandmothers campaign have been collecting donations to help African grandmothers raise their AIDS-orphaned grandchildren since 2006. In Nanaimo alone, more than $100,000 has been generated for the cause.

Vreede, a retired family physician, hopes to be an ambassador for contributors while in Africa, listening to the stories of progress and need from local grandmothers. She left Friday for a three-week tour of Ethiopia, Rwanda and South Africa.

“I’m looking forward to ... actually seeing with my own eyes how these projects actually function and what the African grandmothers have to tell us about how their lives are different now compared to five or six years ago before their support started,” she said, prior to her departure.

Vreede will be travelling to see grassroots initiatives paid for through the foundation, from a women’s network that helps people grapple with the aftermath of genocide to income-generating projects.

She said she’s very excited about the potential life-changing experience and plans to share what she learns during a series of speaking engagements when she arrives back in B.C.

The Stephen Lewis Foundation supports projects around food, counselling and housing that help grandmothers address women’s rights and care for children orphaned by AIDS. Canadians have raised $16.5 million through the campaign. The trip to Africa was paid for through participants and donated Aeroplan miles.

news@nanaimobulletin.com

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