KAS goes to prison
We have exciting news for you this issue. KAS will leave 2010 and enter 2011 on the wings of hope and possibility, knowing that after two years and with building support around the globe our work will continue to be done.
We have achieved much in 2010. Our goal was 105,000 squares. We cannot be sure as there is a huge opening still to come this week, but if you look at the parcels in Ronda's lounge at the moment, (in the photograph under Your Wonderful Work, below), we believe that we will easily surpass that. Ronda and her team were opening on average 9,000 squares a month - that is nearly 260 children warmed every month.
By 16 December 2009, we had received 48,985 squares and 3,737 garments and hats. Just short of a year later, we have received 151,879 squares and 11,031 garments and hats.
Without having the resources to actively market to the schools, none the less we estimate that at least another 150 schools took up KAS as a project and taught children to knit and send squares. This is not so easy to monitor, as not all of the schools come through purchasing the teacher resource.
We have completed all the steps to incorporate in South Africa as a registered charity, which means from next year we can become much more active at fund-raising there. We feel optimistic that we will have greater success seeking support in South Africa for the children then we had in Australia.
Although, because we are preparing a business plan aimed at promoting KasKids™ to Australian schools and KasElders to retirement homes, this might encourage local foundations to be more supportive then in the past. We will give it our best shot.
The forum is close to 1,400 members and in December 09 we sent the Square Circle ezine to 2,270 subscribers and this one will go to 3,419. This steady growth in the KAS community comes despite the unfortunate but necessary reduction in our efforts online to source and connect with more knitters.
Imagine how many more good folk we could find if we had the resources and time to do so! And now when you read the story below you will realise that this is actually greatly important.
We DO need more stitchers and tens of thousands of more squares to bring hope and warmth and connection into the lives of the growing number of children who need our help.
Back in 2007, the figures from Avert and the South African census estimated 1.4 million children, orphaned in South Africa, but that number was growing by as many as 500 children a day. That means that there would be as many as 2 million children now, who face a future fraught with difficulty. You have seen how many of these little ones have lesions on their faces and glazed eyes. Many of them are gravely unwell. Our blankets keep them warm and help save their immune systems for another day.
We have learned too that these little children respond well to receiving your warm, cuddly toys. Even the youngest child immediately nurtures their gift, many of them automatically placing their 'baby' on their backs like their carers (in the lucky cases, their mothers) do with them. Those warm backs and the gentle movements of a carer as they get about their daily chores, must be sorely missed in too many of their lives.
Across the oceans, together we join to put a protective arm around them.
These photographs were taken at the Sizainani Day Care Centre, Protea South, Soweto distribution, featured below. We have had another 3 people Adopt a KasCreche, which is very exciting, thank you again for this fantastic support. Linda and Dave Maltby, this is your second creche, Marci Hannon, Lesedi Day Care also in Protea South and a wonderful long term contributor to KAS, who prefers to remain anonymous, Kido's Edu Centre, Soweto.
Stories and photographs of the last two distributions will be in the next ezine. If you are interested in Adopt a KasCreche, please contact us. To find out more information, you can download Who is KasCare, a brief background, and the Adopt a Creche form by clicking on the links.
And now we have this news. What a fitting end to 2010.
KAS goes to prison
By Roger McDonald
Sometimes it’s hard to know when to tell a story, and when to let a story tell itself. This is a moving combination of the two. The first part of the story is powerful news—the kind KasCare has been trying to achieve since it began. The second part is a knock-out.
It reports an unexpected bonus that KasCare and Knit-a-square are about to deliver. The dividend goes to the most unlikely group you could imagine. Yet it makes extraordinary sense—a win for all on the downhill side of the social divide. You have to read it!
World’s largest security firm backs KasCare for a double win
The world’s biggest security organisation has agreed to support KasCare with a pilot program to benefit both orphans and prisoners.
The South African wing of G4S, the global giant in security services, is piloting a knit-a-square program. G4S is our first South African corporation to grasp the potential for practical help for orphans and vulnerable children, and at the same time to rehabilitate prisoners.
When we visited South Africa in March, a great friend of our family, Frank Moxham, volunteered to introduce us to his employer, G4S.
We explained KasCare and its knit-a-square and KasKids™ school programs to Wendy Hardy, G4S’s dynamic Public Relations Manager. She saw at once how G4S could help make our idea work even better through their own corporate social program.
Carin van Eyk and Wendy Hardy
The first ‘backlog blitz’ on stockpiled square with G4S volunteers from their corporate social team in Johannesburg takes place on 13 December. Working with our Knit-a-square volunteers in Johannesburg, G4S will provide collection and transport services for a pilot project in a prison in Bloemfontein, 370km (230 miles) south of Johannesburg.
Carin gave us this extensive background. She says ‘the management of Mangaung Correctional Centre (MCC) are very excited about this project.’
MCC takes care of 2,928 male inmates who are classified maximum security. The inmates are unlocked for 12 hours a day and various activities, programs and opportunities are offered to them.
Individual prisoner plans
‘We are very excited to partner with KAS as this is seen as an excellent opportunity to benefit our historically disadvantaged communities.
‘As an add-on bonus, the fact that inmates will be offered the opportunity to do something for the community to which they did harm is contributing towards a total approach to restorative justice.
The workshop will consist of two 2.5 hour shifts of 20 inmates per shift, or 40 inmates a day. She estimates this will result in around 200 completed blankets over a two week cycle.
The company is also considering giving assistance to help complete the Vuselela community children’s shelter in Johannesburg’s Diepsloot shack settlement. When finished, the building will look after and try to feed up to 600 needy children.
Thank you Frank, Wendy, Carin and G4S. We can now give more to those who have nothing.
KAS and the knitters of A Holiday Yarn
KasCare and a group of American knitters have found themselves at the centre of a fatal shooting.
On the verge of the Christmas holidays, the good folk of Sea Harbor, New England awake to dreadful news. The body of a member of one of the town’s best known family’s has been found dead with a single bullet wound to the head.
The discovery is made by two members of Sea Harbor’s Seaside Knitters, as they go to deliver a hand-knit blanket to the family.
It also happens on the same night the long-established family winds up its often strained annual meeting. The reunion is again marked by acrimony. The family is divided over the decision of the grand-daughter and inheritor of the estate to convert the family mansion to a bed and breakfast business.
In a small, close-knit community, the news spreads fast. Is it suicide, or something more sinister?
Fortunately, the ‘news’ comes from the wonderfully gifted mind of crime writer and KasCare supporter and knitter Sally Goldenbaum.
Sally has written more than two dozen novels. The latest in the series, A Holiday Yarn, again features the Seaside Knitters. Not only do they create masterpieces of knitted art, they also combine as amateur sleuths. Needles and yarn play a vital role as they work their way to a solution.
As they ponder the case, determined to resolve the mystery, Izzy, Aunt Nell, Cass and Birdie knit squares for the orphaned children of South Africa, and prepare to pack up a huge parcel of squares and KasCuddles for Aunt Ronda of knit-a-square.
Sally’s book opens with this beautiful acknowledgement: ‘First, my thanks to Sandy McDonald and her family, who started KasCare and built the amazing community that contributes to the blankets and garments that warm the children of South Africa. In Moon Spinners [another book in the series], the Seaside Knitters are happy to join these generous knitters and others who contribute to the knit-a-square project. Learn more about KasCare at www.kascare.org.’
Sally’s prose combines the intrigue, the pace and the page-turning enticement of the great story tellers. She has won praise from no less than Alexander McCall Smith, writer of the famous Number One Ladies’ Detective series.
Sally's book would make the ideal Christmas gift for anyone who loves knitting, loves KAS and above all loves a good mystery yarn. The last 3 pages have patterns for a square and the KasCuddle. WHAT A WAY TO SPREAD THE WORD! Published by Obsidian, A Holiday Yarn is available on Amazon for those of us not in the USA. Thank you Sally so very much for your truly generous contribution to KAS.
A distribution with a difference
While we have been used to seeing black children in South Africa subject to abject poverty and disease, there is a hidden section of the community which also too suffers from the sadness of abuse, social dysfunction and neglect.
Peter Lowrie works with a company called Custom Colour whose Christmas appeal was to support the Abraham Kriel Kinderhuis in Nylstroom who looks after 160 traumatized children from all walks of life. We were delighted to support their appeal with beanies for their Christmas gifts.
Sizainani Day Care Centre Distribution
From Ronda "This is a very poor area of Protea South. Sizainani is run by Sengezi, such a pleasant woman. She was so grateful, she had tears in her eyes and had been telling Wandi how extremely difficult she finds it to run her crèche and childcare business when parents refuse to disclose their children's HIV status.
There were some very sick looking children there. But Sengezi had made such a wonderful effort. She and her friends had stitched all these blankets together themselves, and loved the project.
We took food, beanies, stationery and toys ... and I asked Sengezi to keep telling them how special they are which she promised to do."
Wandile and the Pimville Methodist Church
Ronda wrote: Helen Flagg (who ran our recent KasCuddle knit-a-long) wrote and asked whether we had any KAS dealings with the Methodist Church because she had met up with Paul Verryn, the Bishop, Central District, Methodist Church of Southern Africa, who has done incredible outreach work amongst Zimbabweans vagrants in RSA. Happily I was able to write back and say YES ... in Soweto most of our projects are through the Methodist Church.
In our recent appeal, I spoke about the work that Lindiwe and Wandile do in Soweto helping to find organizations, creches and sewing groups through their church communities and personal contacts, to ensure that your squares are made into blankets and distributed as widely as possible to orphaned and vulnerable children, (OVC's). Wandi wrote recently of some of the groups she is working with.
"Pimville Methodist, which involves distributions through the Pimville MISSION and the Pimville CIRCUIT, both caring outreach projects run by the Methodist Church at Midway will be taking a break after this recent distribution until next year. The woman in charge of KAS there is Mosima."
Pam at KLIPTOWN is busy stitching blankets together. SEDIBENG Methodist (Doreen) and her people have distributed about 290 blankets. They hope to have more children on their books early next year and will start again. They would like the project to be ongoing to meet the needs of the children in their care.
Nomsa runs LERUMO LABA HAE also in Pimville with about 240 children in her care.
There is a new Methodist project called DIRA SENGWE, run by Debra Malifane, which cares for more than 200 OVCs and other children in a large community project which also looks after the aged, the hungry and HIV/AIDS affected adults.
Also THUSANANG which means Helping Hands, run by Mrs Ellen Motibi, which cares for 300 children and has a community based care project for adults and elderly - she is keen for squares and other supplies as well.
This young boy in the photograph lost his leg to cancer at a very young age. A pile of blankets ready to be distributed through Pimville Methodist Church.
Ronda wrote: " His name is Leihlahonolo Qwelane and he is 10 years old. Leihlahonolo’s mum died when he was small after his father had left her and he lives with her mother, his Gogo, along with an Auntie who has a two year old child. Wandi says Leihlahonolo is a good boy, friendly and relaxed – and he enjoys school when he manages to attend. The Pimville Methodist Church ladies are the only real source of help in Leihlahonolo’s young life – thank GOD for them – but they have so many more to look out for. And we complain! It’s mind-boggling – and sometimes depressing – but on we go, and we must hope that having his own blanket and beanie will be a source of encouragement to Leihlahonolo".
You will read in Ronda's words some of the pain she and the others involved in this work feel about the outcome for these children.
It is not just the children you benefit, but women like Mosima, Pam, Doreen, Debra, Nomsa and Ellen (and Ronda and her team too). They are so greatly heartened by the love and support you bring them from around the world as they tackle their sometimes overwhelming tasks to bring comfort to their small charges.
You will agree I am sure, that this is truly invaluable work, to have two committed volunteers on the ground able to seek out worthy projects and other caring community organizations to work with. We were greatly pleased to receive recurring donations from another 20+ donors after our recent appeal to support Wandile and Lindiwe.
Your contribution now would greatly assist us in continuing this work. Please consider a small monthly donation here. It is little to spend to achieve such a tangible outcome.
Spreading the word
By Rona Malewit - a moderator in the forum. I spent my Saturday - all day at our school's holiday bazaar (Rockrimmon Elementary) with our son Sean, selling mini KAS ornaments to help raise postage money for our Square Circle club. I'm happy to report that we raised over $50 US, which will help cover our club's squares parcel this year! More importantly, I passed out many KAS flyers (older format) and KAS rulers, sharing the story of the children and what KAS is doing to help, one square at a time. I'm praying that they'll tell a few friends and pass on the word about the children's plight and join our KAS family.
I was especially blessed to teach two new knitters, a mom of one of our club members, and a 5-year-old little angel who took to it spectacularly! And an added bonus - her mom is one of the local TV news anchors, who promised to post the pics and a link to KAS on her Facebook page, where she said she has over 2,000 followers.
Thank you Rona and Sean for your great efforts to spread the word. Yours is such a great story of the way in which KAS connects us from young to old . . .
Your wonderful work
A Centurion Square
Going through the year's photographs, marveling as usual at what has been achieved, I was so excited to find this photograph sent to us in February. How wonderful to think that in the year 2010, we received not only over 100,000 squares and 8,000 knitted items, but our first square from someone who has reached that incredible human milestone, 100 years old. Thank you Pearl, this is certainly a KAS treasure.
So many of you write beautiful, personal and touching letters. Ronda is greatly moved by these as I am when she sends photographs of them. We would love to share some of the ways in which KAS continues to touch so many lives.
From those of you caring for elderly with illnesses or dementia, organizations who care for those with mental illnesses to others who have introduced KAS to their schools or communities with energy, you all contribute to a corresponding response to meeting the challenge to provide help for our children.
We thank you all as always from our hearts and hope that by sharing some of these letters you will be inspired to continue your work for KAS.
I apologise that some of these letters will be very difficult to read for those of us challenged with even threading a needle these days! The sentiment is overwhelmingly loving and supportive. For those of you whose letters I have published, I hope you wont mind standing proxy for the hundreds of others who have written with such compassion and feeling.
We wish as always that we could reply personally, but know that you will accept that we have read and been encouraged by your caring words and inspirational stories.
Ronda could not remember who sent the quote, "knitting squares to make blankets is like putting a warm protective arm around a child". It is one that Roger came up with very early on in our history to describe what we were doing, so it is lovely to have it revisit us from across the world nearly two years later.
LOOK AT THOSE PARCELS! Is this not abundance of the most incredible sort? Erin with the finger puppets sent by Sandra Gill some months ago, but aren't they just beautiful?
Talking about abundance, more fabulous work from six of our most abundant and faithful contributors, thank you Paulette Pronk, Mary and Anne Lokken, Laurie Hake, Linda Maltby and Helen Flagg.
These are examples of the beautiful work we so constantly receive that fill us with hope. Witness the joy on the faces of Lindiwe, Ronda and Wandile below.
And that is not all you do! Look at Ronda's new desk and chair, courtesy of your kind small monthly donations. Thank you especially from her family who were concerned at the stress she was putting on her back working at that low chair and table. She is thrilled.
How international we are becoming. The top of these three are our first squares from Malta. Thank you Vivien Camilleri. Sixteen cardigans hand delivered from Dee Driscoll who lives in France and squares that recently arrived from Malaysia.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank all our volunteers on the ground, especially those of you who have recently joined out team whenever you are able, Tracey, Kirsten, Marci and Kay (not in the photo). I know that all of our community of 5,000 people around the world would join with us to thank you for this much needed volunteer help, your time and your KAS spirit. We look forward to sharing with you the joys of KAS in 2011. Thank you.
Here is the last square list for the year.
Please visit the forum and leave a comment, if you have a favorite designer who you would like to see create a square for KAS.
The Hill Kids
Okay dear friend, that's it from KAS for the year. Hope you enjoyed this right to the VERY end! And that it has inspired you for 2011. We are just four sleeps now from Cressida's wedding and very excited. I look forward to sharing photographs of the happy day with you in the new year.
Wherever you are, look after yourself and have a well earned rest over Christmas. We wish you peace and joy. And everything of the best for you and your family in 2011.
With gratitude for all you do, Sandy, Ronda, Roger, Kalai, Erin, Lindiwe and Wandile.
(And from the children too who would like to thank you with clapping hands and warm smiles to touch your heart. Here is a video to prove it!)
Don't forget your contribution now will greatly assist us in continuing this work. Please consider a small monthly donation here.