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It takes a village to raise a legacy – and this foundation is érèse’s

September 2011

Thérèse Bourque-Lambert, founder of the West Hill Grandmothers Group in N.D.G., had been working exhaustively for years to rally fellow senior citizens and friends on behalf of the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign. The foundation provides aid and raises awareness of the AIDS pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa. A heart-wrenching speech delivered by Stephen Lewis provided the impetus for Thérèse to assume a leader’s role in raising funds and awareness, marching in protests and lobbying politicians in solidarity with the Grandmothers of Africa, often sole caregivers to their AIDS-orphaned grandchildren.

In 2007, she approached her friend Roger Roome, posted to Lilongwe, Malawi, in his work for CIDA, to ask him if he knew of a community that Thérèse and some friends and families could support independently of the Stephen Lewis Foundation.

Roome chose the village of Mnjale to be the beneficiary of Thérèse’s efforts. The fledgling Mnjale Foundation flourished and before long the funds helped not just one village, but 25, then 50. Roome was transferred, handed over his role to Soeur Gisele Leduc, a Quebec nun living in Lilongwe. The name of the organization was changed from Mnjale to Theresa and Melissah Banda has supervised the organization of a board of trustees.

Thérèse was proud of the success of the foundation, and honoured that it bore her name. She passed away this year, leaving a rich legacy of community leadership and social activism. The foundation will continue under the direction of her children and grandchildren, all of whom are inspired by her monumental example.

The Theresa Foundation offers support to grandmothers in Malawi. Photo courtesy of the Theresa Foundation

The non-profit Theresa Foundation seeks to provide funds for school bursaries, wells, bedding and clothing, medicine, farming and food programs in Malawi. Every penny that has been raised in Canada through theatrical productions, concerts and other ventures is delivered directly to the grandmothers of Malawi.

The Second Annual Theresa Foundation Benefit will include a host of gifted artists in an evening of music, theatre and poetry to raise money for the people of Mnjale, Malawi, and 50 other AIDS-stricken villages.

The eclectic, multi-generational performers include the Bagg Street Klezmer Band, the Bud Rice Band, spoken word performer Alice Abracen, singer/songwriters Sophie Doyle, Isaac Abracen and Nikita Yu, jazz musician Eduardo Pipman, playwrights Colleen Curran, Ann Lambert and Vishesh Abeyratne, the Burton Street Singers, Cathy Richards & Friends, and actors Laura Mitchell and Debra Kirshenbaum.

September 23, 7:30pm, Westmount Park Church, 305 Lansdowne. $20, $10 for students. Cash bar.



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