A very personal appeal

A very personal appeal


Yesterday, I was asked to be one of three guest speakers at an end of year function for a gathering of professional women. The invitation was late and so I was unprepared.

It is strange monitoring the thoughts in your head just before you are about to step into any form of limelight. I was there to talk about the new business we have laboured to build over the last 5 months. This to create an income so we can continue our work with KasCare. Our business is called IMdirections, but it is the blog, Why You Must Blog, that is my contribution to the business.

In essence, I have started to teach small business and in particular, women in business, how to use their website to build trust and relationships in order to create a community. It is after all no surprise that we really prefer to do business with people we like and trust.

So I took the microphone prepared to begin the talk about Why You Must Blog. Instead I spoke without break about KAS.

I told the story of Ronda who visited us in 2008 here in Australia and spoke to us of the children she gave cheap blankets to at intersections she drove through, on cold winter nights.

I asked them to imagine a child, alone and cold, at night in our city.

I explained how we were looking to do something different with our lives, about the blanket my mother knitted for me out of squares and how these three facts combined inspired the idea to go online and ask the world's stitchers to send squares to South Africa.

I painted the picture of our excitement when the first parcel arrived and our utter amazement when, after Lion Brand featured us in February 2009 as their charity of the month, we had 50,000 hits to the knit-a-square website in ONE day. And how, after that, the deluge of envelopes, packages and parcels began.

And then I spoke about you. The women and men of the world who responded to the idea of KAS, who embraced the idea that we could make a difference one square at a time, who poured knitted and crochet garments into South Africa with love and deep concern for the small children whom we wrap blankets around.

I watched the women's faces as I spoke about you, this extraordinary community of over 5,000 volunteers from around the world. They drew closer and the energy changed in the room.

We are unique and beautiful as a community. People applaud us all and are inspired by what has been done and continues to be achieved.

Today Pam Antink sent us an article. The story encompasses an English woman, Elizabeth Falconer teaching students in her ESL class to knit for knit-a-square. They came from as far afield as the Ivory Coast, El Salvador and a refugee camp in Laos.

They knit in England for the children of South Africa, inspired by a project started by Zimbabweans who live in Australia and South Africa, and which receives contributions from thousands, primary children to women in their late nineties, who live in 38 countries all over the globe.

Together we have produced over 160,000 squares and more than 10,000 knitted and crochet garments and put those garments and as many as 5,000 blankets around the shoulders of small children, many of whom are unwell and live in unspeakable poverty.

And still they smile.

Does that not paint a remarkable picture?


In April this year I sent out a plea for help.

We had seen first hand on our visit to South Africa that the operation could not be sustained without funding. 225 people have responded this year with regular monthly donations. It has allowed us to cover transport, customs duty and canteen costs. It also allowed us to pay for the monthly website subscription costs and part of the administrative help that Ronda and I receive with enormous gratitude from our two daughters, Erin and Kalai, both of whom work for KAS at way below average rates. Previously these costs were covered from our own pockets.

Simply put, our work for KAS would have ended had it not been for those who rose to the challenge and so generously donated. Thank you again, all of you.

While KAS continues to be a family run volunteer organization, we have the help of remarkable volunteers on the ground in South Africa. Lindiwe Ngwenya and Wandile Mkhwanazi are two women who we particularly wish to bring to your attention.

Both Lindi and Wandi have worked with passion and commitment for KAS since its inception. They live in Soweto and tirelessly seek out suitable creches for distributions, put together sewing groups through their and other parishes, and once a week make the hour's journey to Ronda's home to open parcels. After nearly two years of devotion to KAS, we believe it is time to reimburse them appropriately. Both women work for KAS out of a sense of love of their communities and from their deep faith, as does Ronda. None the less, a labourer is worthy of her hire and it is time to acknowledge that.

Please, those of you who do not yet donate to KAS, could you find it in your hearts to add to your already mighty contribution a small but regular payment of $5 a month?

If everyone in the KAS community was able to do that, we could massively expand our operations.

How would we do that?
Firstly, we would return to active online marketing activities to find more knitters. We would become more active in promoting KasKids (our schools' program which is currently in around 250 schools around the world) and KasElders (the program to introduce knit-a-square to the elderly in communities, churches and retirement homes).

We would actively seek financial sponsors in South Africa as our incorporation there is nearly complete. We would be able to equip our volunteers with trestle tables, storage and work space.

Today, the parcels spill out of the lounge and along the hallway in Ronda's home. But please note the new typist desk and chair that we were able to purchase recently to save Ronda's back. Another heartfelt thank you.

We would have the time to talk to other charitable organisations in South Africa (and Zimbabwe and even other countries with high numbers of AIDS orphans) to partner with, so that we reached further and made an even greater difference to the lives of these vulnerable children.

We would spread the word to 10, 20, 50 thousand stitchers and their families and friends and so our KAS community, which is such a beacon would embrace even more.

Please help us achieve this goal. It is for the children that I ask. You can donate HERE.

With love for you all and your commitment to the work we all do, Sandy

PS. Here is the link to the 2011 calendar. It is an honor system this year. We ask that if you access the calendar, you donate, as was the case last year $7.50 (unless you are already a donor in which case, as we have already written it is a gift to show you our appreciation). You will find the donation form on the left of the page. Once you have purchased it, please feel free to send it widely after that to your friends and family as a gift from KAS and to help spread the word.

PPS! We have some very exciting news for you from South Africa in the bumper issue of the Square Circle ezine on its way to you before Christmas, and just before Cressida's wedding, which is two weeks tomorrow!

Oh! and the square lists for the last two months. You can find them here.


KasKids at Methodist Ladies College, Melbourne. The girls of the International Baccalaureate class 2010 and their families have contributed over 1,000 squares. More about their intentions for next year in the next ezine.

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