Mothering Across Continents SM

March 8, 2007

Charlotte Women Mobilize to Demonstrate Care and Concern for South African Orphans

Journalist and Author Cokie Roberts to be Keynote Speaker

CHARLOTTE, NC -- Looking for a place where empowered and organized women are making a difference in the lives of AIDS orphans and vulnerable children globally? You may want to pay attention to Charlotte, NC.

Five women professionals from the region have launched an initiative called “Mothering Across Continents: Care and Compassion for AIDS Orphans in South Africa.” ( Highlights include women-focused awareness, education and fundraising events to be held in Charlotte, leading up to Mother’s Day 2007 (May 13).

At 4 p.m. on Monday, May 7, up to 250 attendees will participate in a ticketed, multi-media event at the Wachovia Playhouse in ImaginOn -- The Joe and Joan Martin Center. The guest speaker will be Cokie Roberts, author of "We Are Our Mothers’ Daughters and Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation", senior news analyst for National Public Radio (NPR) and commentator for ABC News. The event also includes a performance by the Charlotte Children’s Choir, as well as photographs and moving stories from South Africa.

Later that evening, women professionals in business and public policy will gather at an invitation-only event at the Levine Museum of the New South. The focus will be a photographic exhibit profiling issues facing orphans and vulnerable children, as well as an intimate presentation, discussion and book signing with Cokie Roberts. A number of photos in the exhibit were taken in South Africa by Charlotte-based photographer Catherine Anderson.

The origin of the “Mothering Across Continents” initiative emerged in 2006 over lunch between organizing committee co-chairs Patricia Shafer and Dr. Lyndall Hare. Shafer, who is president of consulting and research firm Compel Ltd. and contributing author to Enlightened Power: How Women are Transforming the Practice of Leadership (Wiley/Jossey-Bass, 2005), had returned from a trip to Uganda, written the op-ed piece “Will Charlotte Heed the Cries of AIDS Orphans?” (“Charlotte Observer” -- December 1, 2005), and joined the HIV/AIDS Leadership Council of Save the Children USA.  Hare, the director of the Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) Lifetime Learning Institute and author of "In the Belly of the Beast: South African Women’s Lives of Activism, Exile, and Aging" (CPCC Press, 2004), had been serving on the Board of Directors of the South Africa Development Fund.

“Women often ask each of us how they can get involved and make a difference to orphans and vulnerable children affected by HIV/AIDS,” Hare said. “We agreed that one aspect of Charlotte becoming a world-class city is casting a light on this global issue, and we would start by gathering women.”  Said Shafer, “Charlotte is one of the fastest-growing cities in the US and a gateway to the New South, with a reputation for philanthropy and charitable giving. We want to energize a community to collectively demonstrate care and compassion for AIDS orphans and vulnerable children. We think Charlotte can be a model for this approach.”
With the addition of Cindy Quinlan of Thangami International Marketing, Catherine Anderson of the Catherine Anderson Studio and Dianne Stewart of BSA PR & Marketing, the “Mothering Across Continents” organizing committee decided to concentrate 2007 attention and fundraising on projects in South Africa.

“The greatest concentration of orphans and vulnerable children affected by HIV/AIDS is in sub-Saharan Africa. We’re building on the affinity that Charlotteans already have toward South Africa, specifically,” said Stewart, a former project manager of “South by South Africa -- Crafting Cultural Understanding.” The multi-faceted and collaborative arts, crafts, history and tourism development initiative involved 10 Charlotte area institutions in 2006.

In 2007, proceeds from ticket sales, sponsorships and contributions for “Mothering Across Continents” will be dispersed equally to the South Africa Development Fund and Save the Children to help fund three projects supported by the two non-profit organizations:

  • Woza Moya community care project in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
  • Thembalethu home-based care project in Schoemansdal, South Africa 
  • Caring Schools youth education project in Thabo Mofutsanyana, Free State, South Africa
    A unique aspect of the initiative is “Founding Mothers,” an acknowledgement of women’s growing economic power -- not just for buying, but for giving. “Founding Mothers” make contributions of $500 each to “Mothering Across Continents.”

Tickets for the May 7 public event at ImaginOn -- the Joe & Joan Martin Center are $45 and available through the Children’s Theatre of Charlotte box office, 300 E. 7th St., Charlotte; 704.973.2828;

About Save the Children
Save the Children is the leading independent organization creating real and lasting change for children in need in the United States and around the world. It is a member of the International Save the Children Alliance, comprising 28 national Save the Children organizations working in more than 110 countries to ensure the well-being of children.

About South Africa Development Fund (SADF)
SADF uses grant making to focus on the needs of the most disadvantaged sectors of South Africa: women, children, rural people, the unemployed, residents of informal settlements, the elderly and the disabled. To date, SADF has issued more than $9 million in grants to organizations in South Africa.

Media Contacts:
Mary Waller, The Waller Group, 704.953.7259,
Dianne Stewart, BSA PR & Marketing, 704.844.1064,
Photo JPEGS are available upon request