University of Victoria history professor Elizabeth Vibert conducts research in the village of Hopi, South Africa. She soon realized, through her research, that much more than history could be gleaned from the women, spurring the creation of The Thinking Garden, a film being screened by the Campbell River chapter of Grandmothers to Grandmothers on March 24.

Celebrating resilience through film

Grandmothers to Grandmothers brings two inspiring short documentaries to Campbell River March 24

A bunch of Campbell River grandmothers are trying to bring attention to the plight of those struggling in Africa – and raise money to help.

As part of their annual spring event – this year being held March 24 at the Centre for Spiritual Living – the Campbell River chapter of Grandmothers to Grandmothers will be screening internationally-renowned film The Thinking Garden, an inspiring documentary highlighting three generations of women in a small village in South Africa who have come together to literally sow the seeds of meaningful change.

Grandmothers to Grandmothers raises money for the Stephen Lewis Foundation and builds awareness of grassroots organizations in 15 sub-Saharan countries where grandmothers like themselves take care of millions of children orphaned by AIDS.

Member of the Campbell River chapter, Gaye Hudson, says the film, at its core, reflects what the Grandmothers to Grandmothers movement is trying to do.

“These women, while not one of the organizations being directly supported by Stephen Lewis Foundation funding, are another grassroots organization that has shown amazing resilience in the face of all the amazing challenges they’ve faced,” Hudson says. “They are so inspirational.”

The 15-acre farm being worked by these African women provide food for their own community and those in the surrounding areas. They named it “Hleketani,” which means “thinking” in the xiTsonga language, because it is where they came together to think on how to manage the impacts of climate change in order to continue to nurture the land through epic droughts, as well as challenging social and health conditions to ensure it could continue to benefit their people.

And when University of Victoria history professor Elizabeth Vibert visited the village of Hopi – where these amazing women operate this farm – to gather oral history for her research, she began to see that there was much more than history that could be learned from them.

And so, last year, The Thinking Garden debuted in front of a packed house at the University of Victoria. While the physical setting of the film 35-minute documentary is a small town in is South Africa, the message of community action, resilience, sustainability, food security and climate change reaches much further. It’s no wonder it has been selected by film festivals all over the world, including Paris, Frankfurt, Johannesburg, Kuala Lumpur and Los Angeles. It was also awarded the Matrix award for outstanding achievement in a B.C. short film at last year’s Vancouver International Women in Film Festival.

“It’s just a lovely, lovely film,” Hudson says. “It’s an eco film, it’s a social change film and it’s just wonderful.”

Also being screened at the March 24 event is the 19-minute documentary Alive and Kicking: The Soccer Grannies of South Africa.

While dealing with their own stories of abuse, poverty and neglect, a group of South African women between the ages of 55 and 84 lace up their soccer boots and start kicking their way through centuries of taboos.

This is the story of a group of women who, back in 2003, began a movement across the southern tip of their continent: physical and emotional therapy in the form of sport and camaraderie.

Tickets for the Spring Event are only $10 and are available at Appleseed Cottage in Willow Point and Coho Books downtown. Doors open to the event, which also features a market of handcrafted items for sale, at 12:30 p.m.

Extra parking is available across the street at Merecroft Village.

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