Saturday, October 22, 2011

Janet Siddall

The awesome woman for today is Janet Siddall. After a long career in various diplomatic positions in the Canadian foreign service, including a final stint as High Commissioner (ambassador) to Tanzania, Siddall retired from her career but not from life, nor from her love for service and her connection to Africa. She now serves as an organizer for a branch of the Grandmothers to Grandmothers ("G2G") campaign, in which grandmothers from the West help grandmothers in Africa.

Due to the ravages of AIDS and other diseases, older women across Africa, after having already worked so hard to raise and support their families for decades, find themselves in the position of raising their children's orphans. About 15 million orphans now live in sub-Saharan Africa. Not only do the African grandmothers face caring for themselves in old age, after a lifetime of hardship and poverty and without a national retirement pension of any kind, but now they also must provide the love, nurturing, schooling and material support for their grandchildren.

Siddall's knowledge of African, gained during her days as a diplomat, helps inform her local branch of G2G. But in spite of her elite career she sounds like just a down-home grandma engaging in grassroots actions to raise money for the cause. She organized a potluck dinner that raised $2,500 Canadian, and a "Stride to Turn the Tide" walk that raised $6,000.