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By Marion Boyd

Bring a lawn chair or a blanket and come over to the community park on Thursday, June 14th at 7 pm.   You will find lots of your friends and neighbours out to enjoy an evening of jazz for the best of causes.  Oliver’s Grandmothers for Africa are presenting Penticton’s Thursday Night Jazz Band.

The idea of the Thursday Night Jazz Band is unique, brilliant and quite different from a formal concert.   Talented and generous, a substantial group of jazz musicians from the South Okanagan get together in various combinations to perform.  They have to practice and most have day jobs.  So Thursday nights, informal and fun, are practice time and why not practice in front of an audience and help local charities raise money ?

The local Grandmothers for Africa group was recently inspired when a Kamloops grandmother, Mary Baker, returned from visiting Uganda and Tanzania.   She talked about the 17 million African kids who have lost one or both of their parents in the AIDS pandemic.    40 to 60% of those kids are living with their grandmothers and those indominable grandmothers, with our help, manage to feed, clothe, and educate them.   They give them the love and support they need, engage in AIDS education and take part in income generating projects.   By working together, grandmothers here and in Africa are part of a massive process of reaching out to help isolated and fractured families become vibrant and hopeful again.

Mary mentioned to us that in the gatherings in Sub-Saharan Africa, music and dance were central and both joy and sorrow were connected and expressed.  It seems fitting that a night of free flowing jazz right here in Oliver should be a part of showing our solidarity with our counterparts abroad.   Sometimes plaintiff, often joyful, the notes of the Thursday Night Jazz Band can touch the spirit.   Be careful!   You may find yourself dancing on the grass and throwing more money than you planned into the donation jars!!

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