We are back in Australia after a momentous, heart-warming, heart-wrenching trip to South Africa. We witnessed what you are achieving for those orphaned, vulnerable children we have been able to wrap blankets around, or put a hat on their heads, or hand them a pencil, soft toy or scrap book. It made us deeply grateful for every square in every blanket – for every stitch that has been made by you, for them.
Since we left in the middle of March, we have been joined by hundreds of new members. We know that you and our whole community warmly welcomes those who would wish to work with us to warm and comfort the children.
The blog I wrote: all for orphans kept up to date with much of what we saw and enjoyed, both on behalf of KasCare and on a personal level during the four weeks away, with some notable exceptions; meeting Oliver Quambasch from Hotel Hope, Stephanie from Jabulani Khakibos Boys, Gail from Nkosi Haven Orphanage and Sister Cecelia Sato from Vuselela Community Health Centre in Diepsloot, among others.
VITAL COMMUNICATIONS Time is pressing for everyone. Communicating regularly with you is one of the best jobs in the world. But the previous ezines , pages long as they were, took too much time to prepare and far too long to read. We have observed that many more of you open and read short updates, so Square Circle will now be far more regular and much shorter. I will continue to post to all for orphans regularly, meaning that between the ezine, news on KasCare.org the blog and the forum all aspects of what we do should be covered.
Each of these memorable meetings will be reported on in depth for following ezines together with the wonderful work you do and news of KAS plans going forward, but in todays' ezine, can we share this observation with you from our very recent experience.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE There is no doubt that there has been, during KAS's short 18 months existence, an extraordinary communal, international effort to warm and comfort children who have little to nothing. Clearly we have all had faith in what we were doing as meaningful, right, necessary and making a difference.
Our time in South Africa was limited. However as we raced around Johannesburg, visiting creches, orphanages, community centres, meeting people, touching the beautiful children, we held you in mind. What would you feel had you been with us, experiencing what we were?
The three month old baby whose hand I held, and who tried to muster a smile in her weakened state, communicated something so moving, so powerful, she seemed to sum up all that we were doing. Just one small child whose life is likely imperilled, even at her young age. Sending her story out to the world and those of her little companions who lay on the cold linoleum floor illuminated what we can do in the future and what we are already achieving with every stitch you make.
The squares we make are indeed a currency of hope. When they are sewn into a blanket, they keep children warm, often children who are ill and who, if kept cold, would undoubtedly become gravely unwell.
The blankets are vibrant and beautiful and a gift to a child who may never have received a gift of such magnitude before. As we hand them out, the children are told that the blankets have been made by people around the world who care for them.
The children held tight to their blankets and yet relinquished them with obedience when asked by the teacher, folding them neatly and piling them up in the corner of the room.
Asked would each child be returned the blanket they were given, I was told that they would know exactly which one was theirs. Their claim had been laid!
But it is not in the blanket alone that we make a difference. The warmth of the blanket spreads beyond its little recipient. When we spoke to the dozens of people we met socially and told them about KAS, they smiled and asked how they could help. The carers, Go-Gos and 'teachers' at the creches were profuse in their gratitude for this unexpected help for their children, asking us to return to help others. Those we met who were working too with orphaned or vulnerable children, pleaded with us to continue and grow our work, understanding the enormous value of raising awareness and the lifting of their weight as together we tackled this enormous issue.
KAS is making a difference. It is only a question of scale. I have been reading Peter Singer's book, 'The life you can save'. A notable author, he is also Professor of Bioethics in the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University. His premise is that while none of us would hesitate to save a child from drowning, many of us spend money on things we do not need and would not miss, while thousands of children die each day.
By the sheer acts of knitting and sending, sewing and distributing, organizing and planning, spreading the word, donating and caring, our world-wide KAS community both changes how we think about, and act toward, the millions of vulnerable, alone or dying children in the world today and touch, in a meaningful way, those of them we can connect to, as a result.
GROWING, GOING FORWARD! Firstly, we are thrilled to tell you that we are to be incorporated in South Africa. Cathy Loupis of CAL Consulting, Johannesburg has offered to assist KAS with the formation of our Section 21 as KasCare South Africa. While there, it became evident that much of the potential work we needed to do would be impeded by not being a registered association in South Africa. It will also significantly reduce administrative difficulties around employing an operations manager in South Africa from Australia.
Now that we are over our jet lag and settled into our home office, we are formulating plans for South Africa which we will be delighted to share with you by the next ezine.
I am also preparing a full report on all our activities, some of which has been loosely put together in our revised wish list for 2010, posted on the forum.
We would be greatly pleased for all of you who are not members of the forum to join, not only to enjoy the warm KAS community but also because it is simply easier to discuss the practicalities of the work we are doing within the forum, rather than within Square Circle.
NEWS FROM YOU
We received this great photo from Frances Kitchen, a women of many talents, knitter, chef, broadcaster and journalist. Thank you Frances and for the delightful baby blanket you have sent KAS.
Hot of the press Sally Goldenbaum, a member of our KAS forum is a published author of a series of knitting mystery novels, (which fall into the narrative greed category – you just can't get enough!). She has just had published today her third novel in the series, the Seaside Knitters Mysteries, called Moon Spinners. I believe the charity our heroic knitters knit for may be KAS! Look forward to a wonderful discussion about the book in the forum, so dash out and get a copy soon.
US$3RECURRING DONATIONS We have had over a hundred people generously subscribe to a recurring donation to help us put in place an operations manager in South Africa so that we can get more blankets onto more children. Our appeal in April explained that our amazing and remarkable volunteers have done a truly brilliant job so far, but we are growing and cannot ask more of them than they are already giving freely of their time. It is time to move to the next step to ensure that your work can continue effectively to warm more children.
We are asking for just a small recurring donation to help us do this. In doing so, we recognise that you already give of your time, effort and money for postage, so accept that this can only be made if it is within your means and does not put your already substantial contribution at risk. If you are able you can donate here.
SQUARE LISTS! Here are the square lists for the period February 27 – April 22 (there are three of them so far and another two will be posted tomorrow). Each post office collection adds another fantastic hill of boxes and parcels to the mountain collected in the last 3 months.
Although we have tried to ensure that older parcels are placed at the front and newer ones toward the back, this is not always possible, so do not despair if your parcel is not yet catalogued. They are there. Here is Gloria from Bryanston Post Office, the collecting office who has become a friend and supporter of KAS. She takes great pride sorting and organising our huge collections.
We have had to accept that for the moment post is arriving faster than we can open, sort and catalogue it, but PLEASE do not stop sending. Part of our planning is to ensure that we get through the backlog urgently, catalogue the arrival of the parcels immediately and streamline the process.
Parcel opening is a truly wonderful experience. Wandile says you get addicted to it. She is right, we miss it already and we were only able to open on three occasions. Imagine my delight at opening this parcel to discover it was from a family friend in Australia, Margaret Griffiths, although you all seem like family friends to us now – another hidden aspect of the joy that KAS delivers! It is a joy that we will spread further as we organise more volunteers to join with us. And another reason to make sure you keep sending.
Next ezine – mid May: Plans for South Africa revealed; Remarkable Oliver; Soweto Gospel Choir Blankets and Nkosi Haven; Erica's Parcel Database Software.
Until then, look after yourselves. Thank you as always for your continuing and amazing contributions. Bye for now, Sandy
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