Newly orphaned children in your blankets

Historical content: This blog post is more than 12 months old, so some content may now be out of date.

Please use the main menu items on the side of the page to get the most up-to-date information.

 

Newly orphaned children in your blankets

 

Each month we are joined by dozens of new members both as subscribers and in the forum and ravelry group. It is an absolute joy each day to see the new subscriber notifications and know that means a growing community and more and more squares arriving in South Africa to help warm our children. Thank you all and a very warm welcome to knit-a-square.

SQUARE CIRCLE ISSUE 17.1
October 26 2009

 

A plea from us!
FEATURE STORY: Diepsloot–blankets for children who have recently lost their surviving parent AND our first GO-OVER™ finds a home.
Currency of Hope
6th Anniversary, Jabulani Khakibos Kids
St Michael's School embraces KAS
What has 'Death by Cashmere' to do with KAS?
Crochet, Knitting Heroes tele-seminar series
Anne 'Squares Off' and raises money
Debbie's Sit and Knit event
Two acts of kindness
The KAS/Keiskamma knitting tote
Spread the word - KAShair!

SQUARE CIRCLE ISSUE 17.2 October 30
Lots of your wonderful work
A video to gladden your heart
Glossary of ideas from the forum to consider.

This months ezine is broken into two issues – today's with all the news and Thursday's with loads of your amazing work and Ronda, Lindiwe, Sonya and Anne's beautiful layouts.

Also, please watch the Jabulani Khakibos Boys video (the link is in the story) between now and then as I will have to take it off the site in order to load the heart touching snippets of our children singing their thanks to you for next Thursday.

Although they are both short, the video's size prohibits both videos being up on the website at the same time. The quality is a little shaky, but they are, none the less, both well worth watching.

 

 

 

A plea from us!

 

I must beg everyone's kindness a little further. This month we were troubled to learn that a very young contributor who had organised a huge volume of squares had not heard from us, or that her sizeable efforts had arrived safely in South Africa.

Our current system relies entirely on you, who already spend hours knitting and crocheting, reading Square Circle in order to click through to the lists we post on the site of the contributors.

 

So many of you are now sending incredible contributions of hundreds of squares, singly or within groups, often with gifts for the children and with thoughtful and loving letters. Ronda photographs all the contributions and letters and sends them to me. We read every one with a joy and humility. By choice we would write a letter of acknowledgement to every one of you for one square or for hundreds.

 

At the moment this is just not possible -
if only we each had parallel weeks! So for now, could I ask any of you who are part of a group (church, community or school) to contact me through the website here, if you have made a very special contribution. We would like to acknowledge it by sending you a certificate of appreciation.

 

We will work toward a different system in the future when we have more resources. In the interim, I implore you to join the forum. By being in communication with the others who contribute, you will soon understand the weight of your work and the difference you are making.

We are greatly indebted to you. Your work brings to all who are involved great joy, a growing sense of the goodness of humankind and a belief that together -
we really can make a difference, one square
at a time.

 

Parcels and boxes ready to be opened in the last two weeks!

 

FEATURE STORY:
Diepsloot – blankets for children who have recently lost their surviving parent

 

Despite the overwhelming need of orphans and the poor generally evident everywhere, it is not always as simple as just walking into a shack settlement and handing out blankets.

To do justice to your lovingly made squares and the work of our volunteers who stitch the blankets, we need to find ordered means by which we can fairly distribute the blankets. We can not always know the status of the children as they wander the streets, neither would it be possible to guarantee that children randomly handed blankets would get to keep them.

This is the benefit of working through parishes and charitable organisations at this point. We will continue to seek those gatekeepers and custodians of the extreme poor to help us in all the settlements. Wandile in Protea South walks the streets searching for children in situations of neglect, abuse and illness and Heloise, who we introduced you to last month, continues to feed homeless and orphaned children such as the Hill Kids.

So recently Ronda was delighted to be reminded of a friend from her Parish, Seghonto (right), who she had met some months before. She rang him immediately and that very same day he organised a distribution in Diepsloot Shack Settlement through the good auspices of Sister Cecilia Sato who runs an organisation called the Vuselela Centre.

Seghonto is employed as a Peer Education Officer there and teaches drama to the children cared for by the centre. Ronda had 50 blankets completed ready for distribution and lots of hats and pullovers. It was also a particularly chilly day.

So within a few hours she was off to meet Seghonto at the main entrance of this vast settlement to be guided to the Centre.

The centre's care programs are listed as peer education, support groups and home based care among others. Basically, they are called to deal with situations involving destitution, sickness, death, abandonment or where underage children become orphans.

Sister Sato is a strong, Christian woman who is fiercely protective of her charges. She started the centre on her own several years ago.

 

 

Ronda said the number of blankets she had was horribly inadequate in terms of the children that were there, but they gave blankets to the most desperate children of all ages who had "most recently lost their surviving parent".

Just reading that makes one's heart ache.

 

After that she distributed pullovers and beanies. She wrote: "My most fervent prayers were answered when there were 6 beanies left over at the end. I just could not have borne it if any of those children had received nothing - they were aching for a present, bless their little hearts."

Nomsa, the SAW (Social Auxilliary Worker) called them up in family groups which is why some of the children are 16 or 18 years of age. So young, but parenting their siblings and other orphaned children.

Sister Sato in the background.

Sister Sato has asked whether she can call on Ronda in emergency situations when people are dying and need blankets or warm clothing. It is good to know that we can extend your kindness to help children at a the time when they may be losing a loved parent.

These photographs really do justice to the quality and beauty of your work. So I have featured as many as possible hoping that you will recognise your squares, hats and beanies.

if you do, you will be delighted to see how well they grace their new owners, particularly the children with the blankets who have been newly orphaned.

Lindiwe wrote down a list of some of the children who received blankets, but the situation did not easily allow Ronda to put the names to the actual photographs.

Still it is lovely to know that these are some of the children whose blankets contained the squares you made and sent.

Tomata, Thulane, Cassandra, Thapelo, Phako

Sanele, Ndevhuwo, Gugu, Mojalefa, Viola

Paulina, Knowledge, Surprise, Thandeka

Xoliswa, Nthokosisi, Nondumiso, Karen

Mluleki, Petros, Nkosinathi, Ismael, Nodiwe

Nkazimulo, Maxoba, Percy, Amokelang

 

Lots of warm little heads

Three absolutely gorgeous sweaters and don't they look fabulous on their new owners.

And here are two larger size square pullovers which look delightful on these two young girls.

Bradley on the left made himself known to Ronda as they left and gave her a hug. He is much younger than he looks.

 

Some of these faces are etched with sadness. In most cases these very young people are heads of families now. One young woman to whom we gave a blanket looks after 15 children.

And yet, this young boy displays his innate rhythm and sense of joy after being given his warm new pullover.

We look forward to working with Sister Sato over many years to provide the children she and her Centre care for with warmth and recognition of what they suffer.

The first GO-OVER™ finds a home

The GO-OVER™ is a pullover made out of squares. The protoypes were created by Anne Powell and Zanny Blew in response to Ronda commenting that most pullovers were too tight to 'go-over' other clothes. It is most fitting that this, Anne's first crocheted prototype GO-OVER™ has found a new and welcome home with this young boy.

You can find the patterns for the GO-OVER™ here.

 

 

 

Currency of Hope

 

As you know we are now incorporated, although we still await the precious number which will allow us to unfreeze PayPal! November 3rd we are told. In the meantime we have been sending out fund-raising proposals around the world. We will let you know of our success.

Funds are essential for our survival and growth and to ensure that we meet our goal: "warm every orphan and raise awareness around the world of their plight."

We have always thought of each square as a 'currency of hope'. So in an impromptu think thank this week, we had the idea to give a square a notional one dollar value. Could we then ask companies to fund 10 blankets at 35 squares per blanket for $350? It is such a modest amount, but the difference that 10 blankets on 10 children makes is undeniable, so perhaps many companies would think it a worthy cause.

We would love your feedback. Better still if you work for or know of an organisation you know would consider such a charitable donation, could you let us know. You can either contact us on theforum or if you have any ideas about this, please visit the forum in the IDEAS thread.

You can support us in the interim by purchasing anyone of these books, including Roger McDonald's Heart Yarns and LIz Raad's Knitting for Profit. One hundred percent of all sales go directly to support the work we do for the children.

 

KAS has their first corporate sponsor

 

 

Zanthe and Megan from North Balwyn Chiropractics have been ensuring for years that our whole family can continue to work the hours we do at the computer.

Anyone who works long hours on a computer will understand the body issues that plague one as a result. We weren't really made to sit hunched over a little screen for days were we!

They have a gold coin collection for philanthropic purposes and to our delight, decided to dedicate it to knit-a-square. Thank you so much for your support North Balwyn Chiropractics from the whole KAS community. In essence, you are our first Currency of Hope donor.

 

 

Jabulani KhakiBos Kids 6th Anniversary party

 

Ronda and Erin were invited recently to attend the 6th anniversary party of the Jabulani Khakibos Kids. A great deal of work had been done by the boys to entertain their guests, including a welcome in each of the 11 official languages of South Africa, a drama, the singing of the very poignant South African national anthem, Nkosi Sikelel i'Africa and, self taught, the famous South African Gumboot dance.

All of which you can see snippets of in this video here. For those of you involved in the September Challenge , making GO-OVERS™ and blankets for these boys, this will be very poignant as you recognise a few of the names.

The drama entailed the drunken patrons of a pub being robbed of everything, even their shoes and later on an armed robbery. Ronda commented that it is a sad reality of their previous backgrounds that violence features highly in their imaginations, but as she wrote: Happy ending - the Holy Spirit is called upon and renders the firearms useless .... PHEW!

How inspiring that these boys who came from truly perilous backgrounds, now have a home, food, kindness and education as a result of Stephanie Burnett's efforts. And soon they will all have beautiful warm blankets and GO-OVER's as a result of our September Challenge.

Here is a link to the video of the boys entertaining on the occasion of their 6th anniversary. it will only be up on the site until Thursday 30 October.

 

Christmas idea

We have not been successful so far at finding computers for the boys, but we will keep trying. In the meantime, Erin has has promised to help to have three of their broken windows repaired.

Ronda says their calendar is very busy this year and she and Erin suggest it would be appropriate to do Christmas boxes for each of the boys rather than a Christmas Party. We will post a list of desirable items on the KAS Wish List in the forum if you would like to contribute. Erin's friends have committed to at least 10 boxes, so we would need additional contributions for up to 25 boxes.

This is the lovely youngster, Anatjie, who had just arrived at JKK and washed Ronda's car the first time she went to Jabulani.

She said it was wonderful to see how integrated he is now with friends all around him.

We are also going to donate some of the soft knitted teddy bears that Gary from Daylesford, Australia knitted to JKK, because we were told that when the little fellows arrive, they very much need a soft cuddly toy to help them settle in.

 

 

 

St Michael's School, Melbourne embraces knit-a-square

Cressida and I were treated to a service on Friday 23 October, which was deeply touching.

Margaret Fernon introduced Claire Hicks, a teacher at St Michael's School, Melbourne to KAS through an article in the local Archdiocese magazine, Kairos. Between them and with the blessing of Geraldine, the principal, they introduced knit-a-square to the children, their parents and some of the parishioners who set about teaching the children to knit during their school breaks and knitting themselves.

The service was in the beautiful St Michael's church next door to the school. The whole school and many parents and parishioners were there. The children had prepared poems, letters and drawings all dedicated to the orphans and knitting blankets to keep them warm. Groups of them took turns in reading the poems and letters while others lit candles at the base of the altar. Then the children and the community were asked to come forward and lay their squares before the altar. Some of the children looked as young as 5 or 6.

We were greatly moved and wished you had all been with us to witness this warm embrace of the work we are all doing.

Afterwards I gave a short presentation which told the story of knit-a-square and the work you are doing featuring many photographs of the orphans and their blankets. Then it was back to the school for a picnic and more knitting.

Thank you St Michael's School and Community for your involvement in knit-a-square. We hope very much that you and other schools will continue to contribute over the years and in so doing teach the next generation of children about the plight of the orphans in Africa.

 

 

What has 'Death by Cashmere' to do with KAS?

 

What indeed? Sally Goldenbaum, author of the Seaside Knitters mystery series, contacted me recently to say she was appearing at the Boucheron Conference, a yearly event held this year in Indianapolis in early October and attended by most major mystery writers and lots of readers.

She wrote: This year they have invited some of us who write 'craft' mysteries to host one-hour sessions during which we will talk with readers while everyone does a craft. For my session, I am going to have attendees knit squares for your project and also hope to hand out information about your program." We were thrilled as I am sure you are too!

I was doubly delighted when a copy of each of Sally's books arrived, beautifully inscribed.

As I later wrote to Sally, Nell Endicott, aunt of Issy Chamber's who owns the irresistible Seaside Knitting Studio and her friends Birdie and Cass became fast friends in the two short weeks it took to read both books.

I felt bereft when we were forced to part ways on the last page. Sally ensures me we will be re-aquainted in the future, but I will leave her to tell you the really exciting part for knit-a-square.

She wrote of the conference that knit-a-square was much thought about and the workshop was great. "There is a mystery buyer for Barnes & Noble, himself a knitter, who has asked for a kit! And most of the participants are taking the info back to their knitting groups at home."

 

Crochet, Knitting Heroes Webinar Series

Roger and Cressida are currently involved in arranging an online webinar series.

The idea is that we invite fascinating knitting and crochet personalities to be interviewed online.  We hope to schedule five interviews starting in about three weeks and running one each one night for five weeks for our first series.

Our plan is to invite the world’s knitting and crochet heroes, those with influence, talent, passion or who are just plain fascinating because of who they are, to be interviewed online, one at a time.

Once the interviews are complete we will transcribe them into an ebook and audio product. They will then be sold, or given away in exchange for a donation to KasCare, to raise funds for knit-a-square.

We would like to kick off the series with the following who have already shown a strong interest:

• Liz Raad (author of the successful ebook, Knitting for Profit. )

• Sally Goldenbaum (Penguin author of knitting-based mystery novels.)

• Susie Hewer, (holder of Guinness world knitting records.)

• Sandy McDonald (founder of knit-a-square.com).

Others who have been approached and we are waiting to hear from include:

• Kaffe Fassett and Brandon Mably (legendary color and textile artists, teachers and authors. They have expressed interest in the project.)

• Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (The Yarn Harlot, globally renowned knitting sage, author and humorist)

• Jan Eaton (crochet pattern designer and author)

• Brett Bara (editor, Crochet Today magazine and Stitchy TV host)

• Jess and Casey, (co-founders of the Ravelry website)

• Amy Clarke Moore (editor of Spin-off magazine for yarn spinners).

Invitations to this online event would be sent to everyones’ members by the participant, with a view to exposing each to a greatly increased and highly targeted audience and KAS to hundreds or thousands more knitters and crocheters.

You can listen to these knitting and crochet luminaries as they talk about their work, their craft and careers. Time will be set aside at the end of the interviews for questions online from the audience. The webinar is expected to run for a maximum of 45 minutes.

 

It will help achieve our second goal which is to raise awareness of this mostly hidden and terrible human tragedy and introduce more knitters for more squares and clothes.

Please feel free to suggest other notables on the knitting and crochet stage. People have told us they love the idea. If it proves popular, we will make it a regular part of the calendar.

 

 

The first St Paul's Leaskdale 'Square Off"

 

From Anne Powell, Uxbridge, Canada

October 18 2009: Today at our church, we asked the congregation to participate in the knit-a-square project. Several women in the church have been knitting - and so we appeared this morning, with 670 squares, two blankets, 14 hats.... seeking help with sponsorship for the postage costs.

I had prepared a very short power point presentation to be shown during the service - just a brief explanation of KAS and loaded with some of Ronda’s wonderful photos.

We asked for 50 cents per square, for each square a family wished to send knowing that some of the heavier squares would cost more to send, but knowing too, that given the generosity of folks at St. Paul’s, we would likely “oversubscribe” a bit and this would offset the cost of the heavier squares. We provided a note to be enclosed with each Ziploc of squares - “Made with love by the members and friends of St. Paul’s.... postage sponsored with love by the ________ family”

The squares and a KAS display were set up in the foyer and people chose their squares at coffee time between the two services. Even the children participated - a basket was set at the front of the church and the kids were invited to drop in a dollar or whatever they could to help keep their little African brothers and sisters warm.... and some were brought to our table by their parents to choose the bags of squares they wished to send.

This little event not only has paid for the postage - it has made so many other people aware of the project - I know we have now enlisted several other knitters, people who don’t knit have promised to tell friends who do, I was asked to go speak to our local senior’s group, most of whom are knitters......and as I sat in church watching the congregation during the power point presentation, I could see an awareness of what we are trying to do dawning on a lot of faces, as they looked at the tin shacks and then at the smiles on the blanketed children.

 

Anne's initiative is inspirational. I hope all of you who are part of a church of a community will take up this idea and be as successful.

 

 

 

KAS Sit and Knit

From Debbie Posmontier, Philadelphia

It was a glorious, sunny, fall day here and the Sit and Knit at the Arcadia Flea Market was a success. Lots of people took rulers and fliers and said they'd send squares. A few people sat to knit but most were busy shopping! I found out about 2 knitting circles in the community that I will visit to share information. I also discovered that Arcadia University, where I am an alumni, has a knitting and crafting group. They are interested in KAS and will spread the word.

 

Two acts of kindness

 

Two acts of kindness came our way this month. We received this exquisitely handmade card and knitted teddy bear in the most minute and immaculate GO-OVER™ from Karen Fontana, a moderator in the forum. She sent the gift for knit-a-square's first anniversary which has been nominated as 19 October, the day the home page went live. Thank you Karen. They make us smile whenever we pick them up.

The $200 Australian dollars was given to us by a great personal friend. She wanted to help with postage for the many hundreds of donated squares, teddy bears, scarves, baby blankets and other assorted items that have been piling up in the office and in my mother's spare bedroom over the last months. We are thrilled that they will now be winging their way to the children, courtesy of her kindness.

 

A reversible knitting tote benefits everyone, especially those with HIV AIDS

We have a good friend, Gay Staurup who is a talented felter. She has spent a year, and more, working in a little town called Hamburg on the East Coast of South Africa, with multi talented women in a creative sewing and felting project, run by the Keiskamma Trust.

Keiskamma's vision as a community organisation is: "to foster hope and offer support for the most vulnerable. We strive to address the challenges of widespread poverty and disease through holistic and creative programmes and partnerships. It is our guiding principle that the battle against HIV/AIDS in rural South Africa cannot be won by medical intervention alone."

The women embroider and felt the most incredibly beautiful art pieces, mentored by great embroidery artists from around the world. They created the magnificent Keiskamma Altar Piece which has toured the world.

 

Gay suggested I talk to Florence Danais, the Art project Manager and ask if they would be interested in making knitting totes for the KAS and wider knitting community. We were delighted when they agreed to become involved in the project.

Gay and I set about making a prototype knitting tote which is reversible using lovely African fabrics and in its final form would feature some beautiful embroidery on the front pocket by the women of Keiskamma. Everything went well until I joined the straps the wrong way round - more like a pinafore then a bag! Gay assures me the ladies of Keiskamma will sort out this rather pivotal error.

Florence has received the bag and so fairly soon we hope to see a 'real one' and be able to offer the knitting tote for sale. The benefits are obvious. Both organisations will benefit financially which means we are supported in the work we are doing for those affected or infected by HIV AIDS and you get to own a magnificent hand made and embroidered knitting tote.

 

Spread the word!

 

Where else are you forced to sit for 45 minutes with both hands free? How often have you itched to do something constructive with that time?

Our local hairdresser now offers knitting needles and yarn and KAS rulers so that you can wile away the time while your hair is coloured, by knitting 8" /20cm squares.

Ron Petrucci of Zucci's has agreed to trial the KAShair program for which we are very grateful. He gave me the opportunity to talk to the staff early one morning before the clients arrived and 10 days since then at least 8 squares have been knitted. At that rate one salon could produce at least 8 to10 blankets a year.

imagine if every hair salon in the world took up the program. You could use the Introductory Letter on the resources page to approach your hairdresser.

It was quite a thrill walking past the hair salon on our way home one evening to see through the window two women busily knitting squares.

 

Your Squares arriving

GRAND TOTALS by 22 October (10 month mark) Squares: 38,290, Baby Blankets 220, Sweaters: 573 Beanies: 1784 Vests: 340

Here is the list of all the squares that have arrived between 22 September 09 and 22 October 09. There is are still boxes and boxes arriving, so please do not be concerned it your squares have not yet arrived.

Don't forget you to have a look at the new KAS book review page. A hundred percent of the proceeds from the sales of any of these ebook or physical book products go directly to support our work with the children.

Thank you all for patiently reading this far. I hope you will enjoy part two on Thursday with all your fabulous work. Have a good week until then. And take care, Sandy