Ah, the best laid plans! Do you remember last ezine I said, 'short and often?' How many of you also suffer from the 'time no longer exists' syndrome? It is characterized by a number of odd symptoms: it is evening just shortly after getting out of bed; Friday seems to follow Monday and the rest of the days of the week have disappeared; the first of the month is followed almost immediately by the 15th of the month and only a few days later by the last day of the month. The year starts in January, touches base with you around Easter, reminds you that it's cold (or hot) depending on which hemisphere you live in, and then ends with only 10 shopping days until Christmas.
The upside of this is that there is never any room for boredom, and the downside is that you grow older much quicker and are continually frustrated by what is left to do. Having said that, there is always time to be reminded of the work we are doing and why we are doing it.
"Keep up the good work that you are doing as you will certainly have the satisfaction of knowing that somewhere in South Africa a vulnerable child is being emotionally assisted and kept warm thanks to your willing soul and hands."
Claude Nkebi, project manager, Hellenic Church counselling centre, Bez Valley, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Claude's sentiment above, sent recently in an email, summed up eloquently the impact of the work you and KAS are doing in South Africa.
And from Elizabeth, (Brisbane, Australia) in the forum, this excerpt from a post called:
Thank you KAS from the bottom of my heart', touched many of us and will continue to do so for a long time too:
"…thank you KAS, for all you give to me. Thank you for the sense of community across the oceans. Thank you for providing me with opportunity to learn new knitting skills, which I can use for me, for my friends and family, and for many who I will never meet. Thank you for the kind words, the messages of encouragment and the thoughtful touches. Thank you for the support I get for knowing that across the miles we are linked, stitch by stitch. Thank you for reminding me that I can make a difference, and thank you for the photos which prove it."
PLEASE READ ON: Nkosi Haven – Soweto Gospel Choir blanket distribution • A quick tour of KAS • A Dentist adopts a creche • Planet Purl – over 200 squares received – Let's make it 1,000! • KASAOTG: Here's inspiration to spread the word • Make it in May • Waiting for baby news • New mods • Blitzing the pile • Erica's solution • Eye candy – your beautiful work! • Square lists
A WARM WELCOME, AS ALWAYS TO OUR NEW MEMBERS As of 8.30am GMT, Wednesday 5 May, we had 999 members on the forum! We watched with baited breathe and soon after that our 1000th member, Anne Hirst from Scotland joined us. Congratulations Anne. We now have 1,025 forum members and 2,839 subscribers to Square Circle.
We have understood from a lot of of the communication we receive, that many of our new members are finding us now, not necessarily through the knit-a-square or forum websites.
We so hope that you will stay with us on this long journey to warm and comfort the orphans of South Africa, and hopefully throughout Africa in time. We often refer back to blanket distributions like Nkosi Haven, Jabulani Khakibos Boys or Ten Thousand homes and challenges, like 'the July Challenge' which was 'Keep a Newborn Warm'. If this sounds like a foreign language, please read the back copies of this ezine and join our forum, where ANY question you ask will be answered in a warm and helpful manner.
A QUICK TOUR OF KAS – it has grown so quickly it confuses even the family! Some of you may not be aware of the history of KAS. I recently wrote a brief history for a fund-raising proposal and offer it here to those of you who may not be familiar with 'the two families on two continents' story of how KAS came to be this world wide community working so hard to help the children. You can download it here.
Here too, is a quick chart and explanation of where everything fits in and also of the many websites associated with KAS and how they all do different work to find you, assist you, raise funds and of course bring to the attention of the world the plight of the orphans.
A Dentist Adopts a Creche
During our recent trip to South Africa, we witnessed these little children, some of whom were clearly ill, asleep on the floor and separated from the dirt only by a piece of linoleum. Since then we have all being thinking a great deal about the creches of which there are hundreds and hundreds in Soweto alone, let alone the rest of South Africa, and how we can help them.
The obvious and first thing to do is to get blankets and hats on every child in a creche. We have also been having a conversation in the forum about sleeping mats, or pillowcases to cover blankets to act as sleeping mats, for the June/July challenge.
Our issue is, as always, how do we fund the facilitation of this on the ground in South Africa? It is one thing to receive squares and make the blankets without funds, distributing within the resources we have, but quite another to run an organization that puts blankets on children, in say two to three hundred creches each winter, without funding.
And so the idea, still in its infancy, was born. We would appeal to lots of organizations and individuals for different levels of support to firstly, wrap the children in blankets, but in time provide sleeping mats, educational material and basic nutrition. We have had some very well considered and philosophical input from one of our great supporters. She has worked out how these levels could best describe what can be done with the support, but as we are still working out the logistics, we will share that with you in the next ezine.
Back to my dentist. I had a regular check up and decided to test the idea. Joe Xanthopoulos is a busy dentist, so I knew there was only a short window in which to ask him if he would consider it – about 30 seconds to be precise!
I said: " Would you consider adopting a creche in South Africa to make sure that little children do not have to sleep on the cold, hard floor in winter. They will be given a blanket, a hat and some basic educational tools – a pencil and exercise book. This will make an enormous difference in the lives of up to 35 children in a creche, some of whom are orphaned and affected or infected with HIV/AIDS. It will only cost you US$500.
He simply said 'yes'. While for an individual this is a sizable sum, for many organizations, it is not. Furthermore, the outcome is completely tangible. They would only have to look at the photographs of the children with their blankets to know that they had supported our work, which does make an enormous difference.
If any of you have contact with an organization who you know to have philanthropic aims, perhaps our Adopt a KasCreche will be something they will consider. Here are two resources which might help you in the first instance: Who is KasCare, a brief background, and the Adopt a Creche form.
Presently we do not have registration outside of Australia and we recognize this may be a stumbling block for organizations seeking tax exemption for their gifts. However, it is a relatively small amount at this level of giving and so some organizations may still consider it, especially when they see a blanket wrapped around a baby who was previously lying on the cold floor. Thank you Joe, from all of us, for being the first of many, we hope.
From the blog
NKOSI HAVEN AND THE SOWETO GOSPEL CHOIR BLANKETS
Here is an article written on the blog, 'All for Orphans', about our time spent delivering blankets to the children of Nkosi Haven during our recent visit to South Africa. For our new members, the story also describes the work that was done to put together 25 blankets for a promotional event, in conjunction with the famous Soweto Gospel Choir in Philadelphia, in January.
The article tells the story of Nkosi Johnson, the 12 year old AIDS campaigner made famous by his speech to the 13th International Conference on AIDS. He died not long afterwards. The story of Nkosi and his foster mother, Gail Johnson, who we met, is a deeply poignant story and highlights exactly why we do this work. Click here to read the story.
From the forum
MAKE IT IN MAY
We have put up the challenge in both the forum and ravelry. It is not too late to join in (still 10 days to go) and send us your creative work this month. Be inspired by these fabulous squares opened while we were in South Africa in April this year.
Here is the challenge: Most of the blankets we now distribute include at least one, two or more squares, in between the ‘plain jane' (garter or plain crochet) squares that are creative, embroidered, striped, patterned, appliqued, initialled, sequined, beaded, buttoned, ribboned, multi-yarned, multi-coloured or just exquisitely made. It is incredible how these squares lift the whole blanket into a work of great beauty. Knit-a-square works on lots of levels, but importantly, it is democratic because each blanket is unique; it combines the selfless love of the world. All are made by squares which are warm, cosy and have your beauty and creativity that makes the blanket extraordinary. These squares are the best way to personalise the blankets for our children.
PS: If any of these beautiful squares are your work, please let us know in the forum thread,Meeting You. This is a great place to introduce yourself and meet others too, so we look forward to a chat with you soon. You can also upload your work
KASOTG – Knit A Square On The Go Day
The first Saturday in May was the second KASOTG day. While the concept is still in its infancy, many Kasers got involved in different ways. Dawne wrote this about her event.
I've had a cold & it's allergy season so Saturday morning came hard and early for me because I did not sleep well the night before. We needed to be at the farmer's market at 7:30. (a.m. – yikes!) Thankfully Emma was bringing the presentation board she made with photos I printed her from the forum. I had much of my yarn/needles ready to go the night before which helped.
My husband Dave came with me but he did not knit. (slippery as a greased pig. LOL!) I taught Emma and Amelia (her sister) more things about knitting while we waited for people to come. And they did! We had promoted our event but I thought it would be the walk-through traffic that would make or break the event. In the end some of our friends did come out and we made some new acquaintances too. One of the most fun moments for me was teaching a 3.5 year old little girl to knit. Her mother and I spoke quite a bit and she took the KAS on a Page flyer home. Every time someone took a flyer it gave me a little sense of hope that they would actually go home and make some time to get to knit-a-square.com and be part of our continued work.
Two knitters I knew brought a finished square with them which was a very nice surprise. I was also given 3 skeins of a very thick, slightly rough wool. Boy, is it ever warm. I've been thinking about a sleeping mat. I can probably make a simple flannel pillow case to go around the mat. Wool for warmth and flannel for softness.
I gave Emma lots of pictures – the whole range from a group of smiling children wrapped in blankets to a photo of one of the Hill kids; a boy wearing his KAS hat. We decided we needed to use them all. The hope and the despair. The babies on linoleum really hit home for so many people. We also had a picture of Ronda in Bottegas, in a daycare, and I could point to her and say "this is Ronda, she heads up the S. Africa operation". Having the names of the places – Bez Valley, Protea South, Bottegas, Diepsloot – in the captions of the pictures gave us a 'ring of authority'. Not once did anyone express any hesitation that we were not a proper charity. How can they when the evidence is so clearly there?
I told people about the Hill children and Heloise's work. I told them about our 3,000 members worldwide. I told them 1 simple garter stitch square was a valuable gift of their time and talent. Lots of people told me they would tell their grandmothers who 'have knit so long they don't even have to look at their needles' and ask them to make squares. And 2 old men told me I was too young to knit. Their mothers knit, you know. I asked them "how do you think they got to be so good at it??" Oddly enough they didn't say anything about the very young girls (14 and 11) sitting with me!
There was a nice mix of people drawn by the cause and those drawn by the knitting. Mostly it was the cause, I think. We were set up near the craft table. They have a weekly craft for kids to encourage families to come out and buy produce, handmade items and treats like pastries and fudge. On the one hand we were a bit off the beaten track but on the other our table was often full and we were borrowing chairs to seat everyone. Had we been right next to all the farmers there would have been no room for people to stop and it would have been noisy! Several people who have weekly tables to sell knit/crocheted items stopped by for a chat. One of them is a crochet genius and has offered to teach me! Crochet squares are probably faster than knit squares.
Two girls, 10 and 12 years old, sat down with needles they brought, and their own yarn, and using the Navajo Ply method whipped up a square while they chatted with us. These are homeschoolers that I know and they knit German style which is pretty fast. I had shown their mom the triple yarn, Navajo trick and she has really taken to it! Other people worked on squares I had started. One woman started a square (she knew how to knit) but it's 10.5 inches long in a really nice Rowan tweed that is soft b/c it has cashmere in it. I think I'm going to pull that back and make an 8 inch square instead so it can be used immediately.
Six squares were made from 8 till 1 that day. Not too shabby really. A lot of the visitors were people who could not knit or women with young children with them so they couldn't really focus. I think these people might make squares at home, though, and we'll see that ripple effect like when you cast a stone into still water.
So many people asked us if we would be there next week. I tried not to show my shock at the thought and merely replied that the first Sat. of May is KASOTG Day and we were one part of a world wide initiative. It was nice to know we would have been welcomed, don't get me wrong, but week after week….. that's a big commitment. (and too early in the a.m.) I'd like to work with Emma again next year so we can continue to raise awareness about KAScare and its work.
I had an email sign-up sheet for anyone who wanted to help form a grown-up KAS group. I have 5 names. That's not too bad. I'm giving myself from now till Mother's day to focus on getting caught up on some things and resting to get rid of this cold. And then… I'll think about a location and see how many of these women really are willing to come out. Could be good. I have an optimistic view of this.
So there you have it.
Oh, the best bit! Dave took our donation jar and walked through the market inviting people to walk to the back to our table (we did have signs on the doors too). He had our donation jar and told people about the work for the orphans. Several people – men at that – gave him 5 dollar bills! He used a little trick of mine to put a bit of money in the jar as a start to encourage positive peer response. It sends the signal that someone else has determined our efforts to be of value. He raised $25.61 for us! Some of these people (the men) never even wandered back to our table but others did come to speak with us. The $25.61 is the total after he took back his $5 to buy me lunch! That's $25.61 in new money! I think I'll keep a few bucks for Emma to post the squares from Saturday and a few she has already made and PayPal the rest. Not too shabby eh?
Our goal is to have the thousands of KASOTG events with thousands of people knitting a square next year, so please be inspired by Dawne's evocative story and put it in your diary. After all as a knitter you are doubtless a busy person and that means that May 2011 is almost on us!
WAITING FOR BABY NEWS We are all waiting for news of birth of Kyla's baby. Kyla is one of Canadian administrators in the forum and I know you will join with me in sending her our love and wishing her and Jim well for the arrival of their little girl, Cordelia.
NEW MODS We are delighted that Elizabeth from Australia and Rona from the USA have joined the forum as moderators. Both, together with Dawne, have an interest in KAS in schools and are active participants of the KAS in our schools.
I hope you will hop into the forum and introduce yourself soon, especially if you are a teacher, have a child or a grandchild at school. They will certainly encourage you, I am sure, to introduce KAS to your school.
Anne is our long term administrator who has done remarkable work within her church community to raise awareness and also funds for KAS work. If you want to introduce KAS into your church groups, please contact her in the Church Group in Canada, and she will share with you her success.
Planet Purl and 1000 squares
Planet Purl is hosting a Warm Hearts Square Charity Knitting Drive – 2010 to benefit Knit-a-square and Warm up America. There support is incredibly generous.
For every square received that meets our program guidelines (8×8" and warm and cosy) they will donate $1 per square to KAS and they are mailing the squares to South Africa on your behalf. Also if you send in your details with your square, they will put you into a draw for $100 voucher at your favorite yarn shop. This is an opportunity way too good to miss. Thank you, Planet Purl for your generous support. 1,000 squares will warm a creche of children which is truly wonderful.
We recently suffered a sudden and great loss in our family – our much loved brother and uncle – Pete Lovemore. Ronda has not been much in Johannesburg as a result, attending the services in two countries, and to the family too.
However, we are delighted to tell you that Erin (Ronda's daughter who works on a part-time for KAS and is the South African administrator in the forum) and her husband, Clive, have opened almost half of the backlog and have plans to have a 'parcel party' soon, where a host of willing volunteers will spend the weekend opening and sorting the balance.
Wonderfully, the post is flying in as fast as we open, but it has become imperative that we clear this, so that you all know your fantastic efforts have been safely received and will soon be warming children. Erin contributes to the thread in the forum, http://forum.knit-a-square.com/forum/topics/back-on-the-ground-in-sa and will write soon of their plans to 'blitz the pile'.
ERICA'S SOLUTION Sometime back, there was a lively discussion on the forum, about how best to inform you all that your post had safely arrived. Erica came up with a solution. Now, amazingly, given the fact that most of you live in the USA, Canada and the UK, she lives in Melbourne, Australia too (where I live), so we met last week for a hot chocolate, on a cold autumn evening.
Erica's idea is brilliant and she has already done some work on a prototype.
Imagine if you were able to simply open a page through the website which would allow you to key in your name and email address, how many squares, hats, jumpers, others you were sending in your parcel, and then press print.
Okay, we are assuming most of you have access to a printer. If you do, you would print a label with the knit-a-square address on it, all the instructions with regard to No Commercial Value and For Charity Only, and a barcode. You would stick this label onto your parcel.
When your parcel arrived in South Africa, our volunteers would scan the barcode and immediately you would be sent an automated email telling you your parcel had safely arrived. It would also enter into our database who had sent what, saving us HOURS of time manually keying in all this data as we do now.
Erica is currently coding this and in about six weeks time, we will trial it. Once it is working satisfactorily for everyone, we will announce a 'go live' date. We are very excited about this project, believing it will save everyone a lot of time and let you know in a timely way, that your work has safely arrived in South Africa. Our grateful thanks go to Erica for the work she is devoting to this.
EYE CANDY – some of your beautiful work!
The square lists are updated now to May 17 and are up on the site.
Keep the children in your hearts and hands as winter takes hold in South Africa. We have so much work yet to do, so we are ever grateful for every stitch you make on their behalf. Just imagine living in a shack like the one below, and instantly you will realize how treasured your squares are.
You are very special to these children. Take care and be safe,