Being 91-years-old is not stopping Hilda Shilliday from showing solidarity with grandmothers in Africa who have been raising a generation of children orphaned by the HIV and AIDS pandemic.
The Berwick resident plans to participate in the Grandmothers Stride to Turn the Tide April 11-25 by tracking her stationary bike riding time, something she does regularly anyway, and applying it to the event.
“I am 91 and I use a walker to get about but I do use the exercise bike,” the former public health nurse says.
Shilliday is a member of the Campbell River Chapter of the Grandmothers to Grandmothers group which supports the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s Grandmothers Campaign which provides support to grassroots organizations in sub-Saharan Africa.
Those organizations provide helpful services such as medical care, education about HIV and AIDS and economic opportunities. Besides the HIV/AIDs pandemic, these African communities are also struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Grandmothers to Grandmothers (G2G) is an amazing group,” Shilliday says.
This year is the 15th anniversary of the Canadian G2G group and the 14th year of the Campbell River group, Shilliday says.
“They raise funds and support grandmothers in Africa who thought their children would look after them when they got old,” Shilliday says, “but their children have died and they’re looking after their grandchildren.”
Shilliday has been to Africa seven times contributing her experience as a public health nurse.
The first time she went, she was 77-years-old and volunteered with an HIV/AIDS program.
“My hope for Africa is the young people will grow up and remain healthy and they’ll be educated and they’ll know there’s another way to live,” Shilliday says.
To participate in the Stride to Turn the Tide, all you have to do is pay $20 and sign up online at https://slf.akaraisin.com/ui/stridetoturnthetide2021/t/crg2g . Just about any activity can qualify.
It is suggested that you log the time, steps or kilometres of your activity, whether you walk, run, roll, ride, dig, vacuum, do yoga, mow or rake. When you submit your activity time/distance/steps for the day, your name will be put into a draw for a small gift prize form the Grandmothers. You are also welcome to enter each day’s activity throughout the event.
This is a chance to engage your kids, friends, or neighbours in a safe event. If you choose to do it with a friend, remember to stay safely apart and do it outdoors.
While you are out and about, watch for the G2G members in their bright blue t-shirts. This event, of course, is a replacement for past fundraising events which can’t be held safely during the pandemic.
“This year they can walk and they can do whatever. My exercises will count for something. I live sort of at the end of the hall so it’s 125 steps to the elevator, so I can count those,” Shilliday says with a laugh.
Participants can also make a donation to Stride. Donations of $20 or more will receive a tax receipt. You can also get sponsors which Shilliday hopes to round up herself.
Shilliday has been a resident of Berwick By the Sea for five years and before that she was a resident of Victoria since 1983 then Brentwood Bay when her husband Errol retired in 1992. The 10th of 12 children, she was born in southwestern Ontario on a farm and has had a long career in public health while raising three children.