An urgent appeal: children, right now, are suffering constant cold

With the world's eyes glued to the current football carnival in South Africa, viewers may be forgiven for not knowing that an estimated 2,000,000 vulnerable and orphaned children live there.

Many of the children live in makeshift shelters like these or spend their days in shack creches. During winter they suffer constant cold. For those infected by HIV/AIDS, that means they are at risk of becoming seriously ill.

The 35 babies and children of Itumelang Creche in Protea South, Soweto are warm today, because we wrapped blankets around them made from your squares, in March this year.

These small shack creches provide a safe haven for children who may be orphaned, or ill, or otherwise left all day to fend for themselves. They are often put together by local folk of goodwill who may have no resources themselves.

There are hundreds and hundreds of creches similar to this, dotted throughout the shack settlements of South Africa, filled with little children from tiny babies to five year olds, who are asleep, right now, on bare floors.

What can we do to help?

First lets review what KAS in South Africa has achieved. Ronda and her team of dedicated volunteers and their personal networks of family, friends and parishes have put in an extraordinary effort over the last 18 months. They have:

• collected and transported several thousand parcels and boxes from the post office

• sorted, recorded, bundled and organised blanket-making from over 82,000 squares

• opened, sorted, stored or distributed another 7,000 knitted items and boxes of 'slip-ins'

• made dozens of distributions through many different outlets, each individually arranged

• wrapped over 2,000 blankets around children greatly in need.



Logistically, this is a quite a feat, because:

• the distances in Johannesburg are vast often separated by hours

• many of the areas into which we go are not always judged to be safe

• finding the networks through which to distribute takes time and a great deal of patience

• people we connect with often don't have transport or telephones or spare money

• arrangements for transport of squares/blankets are dependent on friends and family.

This recent photograph of Wandi and Lindi in the back of Pastor Phillip's car, for the hour's ride home together with over 1,000 squares for the Pimville sewing team, shows that arrangements are made, no matter how uncomfortable!

Why we need your help

Our KAS family in South Africa loves you. They love what you are doing, your squares, your talent, effort and commitment. They love your letters and your compassion. In turn, they are completely committed to, and passionate about, making blankets to warm and comfort these vulnerable and orphaned children.

We appealed for your help in March, so that we could employ an operations manager in South Africa to help them expand this work.

This person would network to find more people like Sister Sato, Heloise, Lindi, Wandile, Arnie and Oliver and to locate the creches and children's homes throughout Johannesburg and, in time, the regions and other major cities.

They would set up proper working arrangements for the collection, storage and sorting of the arriving post and unpacked squares. They would arrange and organise distributions together with Ronda, Erin and the team, but be able to dedicate every day to facilitate these activities.

They would also fundraise as part of their role responsibility so that we could expand the team. In turn, this would ensure that together, we warmed more and more children.

Once we have the resources to handle an increasing volume of squares arriving in South Africa, we would be able to step up the promotion of KAS into schools internationally through the KasKids™ program.

We would also continue to develop the elderly people's program for retirement and aged care homes and find more knitters through social networking online.

All these plans are in place, but first we must make sure that our dedicated volunteers have the help they need.

This is how you have already helped

Since we made our very first appeal last year in August, we have received close to AU$11,000 in donations.

We have just over 200 donors of which more than half are sending us recurring monthly donations ranging from US$2 to$50 a month.

Our gratitude for this support is immense. We could not have continued KAS without your financial help to support our team in South Africa.

$5,000 has been used over the last 6 months to meet basic running costs in South Africa. The balance of the money remains in the bank to continue to meet these requirements. It is not enough yet to employ an operations manager.

We need 750 donors averaging $5 a month.

If we succeed in getting sufficient funding, then our immediate response will be to find the right person to do this vital job. Please will you swell the ranks of our growing KAS supporters' group and consider this small monthly recurring donation to help us achieve this?

To put it into perspective, it is the cost of just two cups of coffee. What a huge difference making this small sacrifice could be to many thousands of children over the years to come.

YOU CAN DONATE HERE THROUGH PAYPAL (The paypal button is on the right!)

You can also help by asking organisations you know, if they would consider adopting a creche. You can download Who is KasCare? and the Adopt a Creche form from these links.

A gift to thank you

As a token of our appreciation for your donation (past and present), we will send you a copy of Heart Yarns, a beautifully illustrated book of poems, prayers and songs devoted to knitting and crochet, written by Roger G McDonald. It is inspired by you, the knitters of KAS.

No matter what you give, your time, talent or a donation, we value you highly and are deeply grateful for what you have done to help the vulnerable and orphaned children of South Africa.

With warmest best wishes and heartfelt thanks for your consideration of our plea.



PS I took a break recently from the day to day issues of running our grassroots charity, to share with you a wonderful story of immense hope. It is about the home Stefanie built to nurture the Jabulani Khakibos Kids and the great contributions you have made to support them.

CHALLENGE: Read how we can all honor Nelson Mandela's work and add to the tally of our current challenge of 55,900 squares!

News from South Africa and the KAS community around the world, together with May and June's Square lists will be in Square Circle coming to your inboxes soon!



Thank you!

Toward comfort and protection

Toward comfort and protection


Greetings from wintry Melbourne this grey afternoon, but from which we are so happy to bring you stories toward comfort and protection in this winter/summer issue of Square Circle, depending in which half of the globe you reside! A very warm welcome too, to our 81 new forum members and 43 new subscribers from all over the world.

We have been very busy since the last issue. Firstly, we are really pleased to tell you that the backlog of parcels is cleared.

We have moved ever closer toward warming many more children with delivery of volumes of squares to two of our major projects, Vuselela Community Centre and Oasis SA Cosmo City Blanket Warming Project, courtesy of the efforts of two organizations, University of Medical and Dentistry, New Jersey and Nampak SA.

We have made several distributions to some very cold children in creches in Soweto and Thembisa and through Lindiwe and Wandile's Parishes.

And the forum and Ravelry members have reduced our goal of 55,900 squares currently needed for all our projects, by the truly astonishing tally of 10,770 squares in just one month. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I hope you will take the time to grab a cuppa, sit down and enjoy the news from South Africa and our wonderful world wide community's ongoing contribution toward comforting and protecting vulnerable and orphaned children.

Good news stories, the magic of 2000 x 2 • Vuselela sing their thanks • Hope and blanket distributions at Nokuphila School • A touching story • Jabulani Khakibos Kids resplendent in their gifts • News from SA • KasKids™ thrives • Your news • Take a little comfort yourself


The magic of 2000 x 2


The two feature stories in this issue, written by Dhanu Misken from the University of Medicine and Dentistry, New Jersey and Shelley Mandy from Nampak SA, highlight just how powerful a concentrated effort from a group of people can be.

Both organizations have, within a week of each other, donated plus or minus 2000 squares to KasCare. These substantial contributions have been passed on to our two major projects, Vuselela Community Centre and Oasis Cosmo City Blanket Warming Project. They are both such good stories and ones that I hope will reach out and inspire other organisations to follow suite.

UMDNJ and FedEx Team Up to Deliver Knitted Squares to Africa

NEWARK— With help from FedEx, which provided funding for charity shipping, knitted and crocheted squares collected by students at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) will soon be on their way to needy children in South Africa. When they arrive, the squares, which measure 8” by 8”, will be combined with other squares to create homemade blankets for children who either have been abandoned, or orphaned by the deaths of their parents due to AIDS.

Dhanu Miskin, (right) a fourth-year student at UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, was inspired to bring Knit-A-Square, a charity that sends blankets to needy children, to the University. She has received approximately 2,250 squares from donors and FedEx has agreed to deliver the precious cargo.

An estimated 11.6 million babies are orphaned in sub-Saharan Africa and 1.4 million of them live in South Africa. These statistics were enough to motivate Miskin who with the help of Alice Owen, wife of UMDNJ President William F. Owen, Jr. MD, arranged for more drop-off boxes to be distributed across all UMDNJ campuses. ?"The entire concept of Knit-A-Square seemed ideal for medical students. It's a community service project that requires little time commitment or money, but makes a huge difference in the lives of cold, abandoned children," explained Miskin, who first heard about the concept of charity knitting from her mother.

"There were numerous websites promoting charity knitting and crocheting projects, but once I found the website, I was drawn to its simplicity,” said Miskin. "My mother taught me how to knit and also instilled in me the incredible value of helping others."

We are deeply grateful to Dhanu, Alice Owen, the participating students from UMDNJ and Fedex for delivering these 2,250 squares to South Africa.

From here in New Jersey, to here in South Africa.

Last Thursday, Ronda, Lindiwe, Wandile and a young friend visiting from Australia, Lauren Bamford went to Vuselela Community Health Centre in the informal settlement, Diepsloot to teach the assembled group how to sew the blankets, starting with these 2,250 squares.

Diepsloot is a shack settlement, a city within a city, sandwiched between relatively wealthy suburbs in Johannesburg. It sprawls as far as the eye can see from the side of a main arterial road leading toward Pretoria. Many families live in small shacks made from scrap metal, wood, plastic and cardboard. Basic services such as running water and rubbish removal are scattered at best. It is estimated that more than half the population of 150,000 are unemployed. Poverty abounds.

We first introduced Sister Sato, who runs Vuselela Community Health Centre, to you in October last year and the work she does for some 640 children who are orphaned or made vulnerable as a result of being infected or affected by HIV/AIDS.

When we visited South Africa recently we visited Sister Sato at the centre, and took more blankets and hats.

At the time, we gave this tiny little girl a jumper. She was so excited, she approached me to say thank you. She showed me to place our fingers together on one hand, then flick them away as we said the universal South African expression 'sharp', which means great, or fabulous or cool. We did this several times to her obvious amusement.

She has left an indelible mark on my mind.

Sister Sato was greatly excited at the thought that we might be able to provide enough squares to make up 500 blankets for the balance of the children. We would need to supply them 17,500 squares.

Not long after that we started a challenge in the forum to meet the requirements of Vuselela and a number of other current projects requiring 55,900 squares in total.

The delivery of the 2000 squares from the UMDNJ is a truly wonderful start for this worthwhile project. Ronda takes up the story of the day.

The Vuselela driver and his assistant collected the 8 boxes from UMDNJ on Weds 30th, the day before our visit.

In each box we opened, there was a lovely letter from UMDNHJ with an explanation as to how KAS was introduced to them.

It went SO well – Sister Cecilia was THRILLED, and she had organized three facilitators, Dora, Jacqui and Nellie. to get a group of 20 people together to stitch the blankets. There were 5 men amongst them, one of whom was an expert.

We took a sack of beanies, one of go-overs and of smaller toddler pullovers and vests and sweaters. We also took food which was very much a highlight of the day and a box of stationery for the children, which Sister C was delighted about.

The first blanket was completed in just 1 hour and ten minutes!

Here is a video of this community of helpers singing their gratitude for this gift of squares. They know that there are more squares coming as some of the 10,000+ squares made by forum members this month wing their way to South Africa.

Please join with us in the challenge to complete the required 55,900 squares needed for the projects to hand.

Knitting Nampak rises to their challenge
The second amazing delivery was from Nampak South Africa. Nampak is an international packaging corporation with a large company based in South Africa. They have a very strong social investment charter. We have been delighted by the staff contribution (see the photograph above) to knit-a-square and were particularly amused by the antics of the IT department as both Shelley and Ronda tell. Shelley Mandy wrote:

Each year Nampak Head Office focuses on an HIV related charity on World Aids Day.

The Knit-A-Square initiative was suggested and accepted and a competition was started to see which department at Nampak Head Office could knit the most squares by 1 December 2009.

Group HR rushed around buying employees knitting needles and wool and then discovered that some of the younger generation, who were enthusiastic to knit, had never been exposed to Home Economics at school, and so we started knitting lessons at lunchtimes. What a lot of laughs we had, with even some of the males braving the knitting circles.

Each week we had more requests for more knitting needles and wool, and started making weekly pilgrimages to the wool shop in central Johannesburg, bringing back many boots full of wool. Employees started knitting during presentations, and our security, cleaning and canteen ladies were seen knitting whenever they could.

After World AIDS day, all those who had knitted met in a conference room, bearing their boxes of squares, to be counted and audited by our Internal Audit Department. It was unanimously agreed that everyone would like to continue knitting over the holiday period, as most people would be taking leave and would have more time, so it was agreed to do the final count at the beginning of February 2010.

We also set ourselves a new target, to knit 2010 squares in 2010 !! In February when we did a final count for the competition, we had 1759 squares, and the inter-departmental competition results were as follows:

1. Group IT (391)

2. Group HR (389)

3. Corrugated Division Head Office(227)

4. NMS Admin (222)

The winning team received a free lunch in our canteen and the ladies who knitted the most squares were given gift vouchers. The ladies were Marie du Plooy (91), Belinda Heath (64), Wendy Norris (52), Elizabeth Ndlovu (45).

We then discovered that our IT Department, which has a large contingent of males had shown a lot of initiative, by approaching a retirement home and providing wool and knitting needles and paying the ladies to knit, at R10 a square! We did not quibble, as there were no rules in the competition as to who could be recruited to knit and whether it could be outsourced. Our objective was to get as many knitted squares as possible. The fun employees had with the initiative and the comradrie it generated within departments was wonderful.

In addition, many people commented that in the high stress period, in December when everyone is tired after a long year, before their long awaited annual leave, that knitting was very therapeutic and relaxing. So there was an unintended benefit !!

I think employees felt that they may not be able to give large donations of money, but they could all make a small contribution by giving of their time to knit a square, which could become something meaningful.

It is a wonderful initiative and Nampak wishes Knit-A-Square much success in registering as an NGO and growing from strength to strength in the future.

Ronda organised with Shelley to go to Oasis to deliver the squares and tells the story below:

It was a successful and most interesting time at Oasis this morning. We (Sian, – right below- my older daughter who lives in Cape Town and was visiting with her children, and I) met Shelley and Barbara from Nampak on the access road to Cosmo City and led them to Oasis.

Erin was already there with her children and their two cousins – one of whom, Jade, is at high school and was hoping to gain experience towards a social responsibility study currently running at the school, which also involves spending a designated amount of time engaging with poor communities. She helped open envelopes and boxes yesterday and is enthusiastic about further volunteering opportunities.

Arnie Sweigers, who runs Oasis SA, had telephoned last night to say that his government supplier of immunization drugs had let him down (again) and that there would be many fewer people at the clinic this morning – which meant that distribution of blankets could not take place. He is now hoping to receive his supplies by Tuesday for the next clinic day. However we went as planned, because Nampak wanted to deliver all their squares which did, indeed, happen.

We sat in a circle in the warm winter sunshine while Arnie explained all the working aspects of the Oasis project . We met his wife who helps out at the clinic who has senior healthworker qualifications so although not a doctor, can prescribe medicines.

Cosmo Cityis in marked contrast to Diepsloot and is widely regarded as an excellent model for relocating people from the shack settlements into government housing. None the less the people here remain infected or affected by HIV/AIDS and poverty.

Shelley and Barbara came back to the house to have a tea and muffins and we all got on like a house afire. Shelley had some amusing stories of their square knitting efforts; how so many of their younger staff had no idea at all on how to knit and had to be shown from scratch; and how amazed they were that the IT Department, comprising mostly young men, managed to produce the greatest number of squares, until they found out that they had supplied wool and needles to a nearby retirement village and paid R10 per square, with the darlings knitting up a storm to maximize their earnings!


A touching story from Pimville


These two anecdotes provide a moving insight into how the work you do connects, beyond the distributions:

From Ronda: This young chap (Kgomotso, I think !) received a blanket at the Pimville distribution about 10 days ago. Khaya (who is the chairlady of the sewing group) tells me they have noticed him in church quite often over the months, always participating vigorously, animated, singing at the top of his voice and obviously enjoying himself – and then he was invited to join a youth group of sorts on an outing but arrived without the designated T-shirt (Sowetans love a 'uniform' as they call it, and always organize T-shirts for specific events).

When asked where his T-shirt was, he said he was an orphan living with an elderly grandmother. Until that moment they had no idea of that – he never complained and always appeared well cared for, but apparently he has a battle on his hands to even get to church. They were so touched by his story, they decided to give him a blanket even though he is older than the other recipients – about 14 yrs old. They also sorted him out with a school uniform, which he is wearing in the photograph with Khaya, and he is on the outreach programme now.

Another slightly older child is an eleven year old who is suffering from leukaemia and is so weak she hardly ever leaves the shack she lives in with her mother, but they did come to the Pimville church for the distribution and apparently she truly loves her blanket and told Khaya that, whenever she feels really ill, she snuggles into it and feels the warm arms of Jesus around her, encouraging and comforting her. Such a beautiful story, I thought.


Distribution in to Nokuphila School in Thembisa
from Ronda

Nokuphila is our only project (so far) in Thembisa … this little school only started in January this year, with 45 children picked from specially difficult backgrounds – all living with the same desperate problems that one finds throughout South Africa in poor areas.

Founded and funded and administered under the auspices of Christchurch Midrand it is already a thriving little school–if only we had a million more of these projects.

My friend, Annie de Witt introduced us to this project – her son is a Church of England in SA (CESA) pastor in Cape Town and this is a branch of the same denomination, which is how we became involved.

She has worked very hard for this project and is now helping them establish a vegetable garden on the site. Also helping is Di who is administering a new project in Eersterus (60 kms from Pretoria) is also terribly keen to get blanket packs and blankets and beanies out there for 120 kids in dire circumstances.

Annie is going to try and keep the Nokuphila sewers stitching blankets up to send to Eersterus

The handout was beautifully organized, each child's blanket and beanie was labeled with their name and Annie did the presentation.



Projects like this provide us with so much hope. They are only 45 children among millions, but like the Jabulani Khakibos Kids they are being afforded an opportunity to receive an education and make a contribution to their society in the future.

We applaud achievements like this, and hope as Ronda says that such projects will be mirrored by the million throughout South Africa. The blankets will be greatly treasured by these small children. Thank you Annie for organising this on behalf of KasCare.




The Jabulani Khakibos Kids and their gifts from you

In our recent appeal sent last week , I directed you to a story about our visit to the Jabulani Khakibos Kids and the gifts you gave them. I sent the story too, to Stefanie and asked that if they had photographs we would very much like to see the boys with their blankets, GO-OVERS and hats. An immediate reply came back with the attached photographs.

They had in fact been sent much earlier but we did not receive them, as they had been sent to our younger daughter, Cressida's old email address. She helped KAS up until March this year developing the KasKids™ Program and while we miss her contribution greatly, we are happy to tell you that she is loving her work for CARE Australia.

Those of you who worked hard for the boys will be delighted to see how warm they all look now, especially walking the 5 kilometers to and from school on these very cold winter days.




Backlog cleared and deliveries aplenty!

From Ronda: We finished all the envelopes from USA and so CLEARED the floor completely … just long enough for it to be swept !

Then we pulled in all the post from yesterday’s collection. John (Hotel Hope's driver) had to make two trips even with his big vanette and once again the room looks chock-a-block.

Our SA KAS team with their new 'haul'. From left, Wandile, Otti, Big John (who has been doing the post run for us), Lindiwe and Erin, Thursday 24 June 2010.

But it was a big event, because it is absolutely the first time that floor has been completely cleared since about November last year !

Well done Ronda, Erin and the team (with help from the grand children as well.) This is a wonderful effort and we are really excited that we are through the backlog and can now more readily clear the post as it comes in.

Two of Ronda's grandchildren insist on helping, Luca and Gemma.

Soon we will be trial the new software that Erica has built for us, and once the glitches are ironed out, we will release it for general us – probably around September.

The Barcode Reader
For those of you who may not have received news of this before, this is will allow you to enter your name and details of what you are sending onto a specified page on the website. You can then print out a label which will have a bar code on it. Ronda and her team will be able to scan the bar code which will both enter the data for them and trigger an email to you alerting you to the safe arrival of your parcel. A true win win for everyone and our heartfelt thanks go to Erica for both suggesting it and coding the software.

The Dreaded Duty
From Ronda: Customs Duty seems to have reached an all time high, not surprising perhaps, since so many large parcels are arriving now. Sadly, I was forced to send back two parcels to Customs for re-assessment of duty … one of R500 odd from Australia and again on Thursday, John had sent back one where R991 duty was required to be paid!. That's the highest levy ever received.

It is likely that the boxes did not fall within our specifications or that they noted specific items. They are currently being reassessed and I will report in the next ezine what the outcome is. We have a good relationship with the post office and if this duty is unreasonable, we feel certain it will be addressed otherwise we will attempt to establish the exact reason so we can avoid it in future!



I am happy to tell you that I have just received a donation of Can$200 to with a note saying it was specifically to cover duty. We are so very grateful for this support and feel greatly moved by such consideration. We also received a donation of US$750 last week from a member who already contributes regularly. It came from her mother's estate and with the comment that as her mother was an extremely generous person, she would be pleased to know that the money was being used for those in need.

We are now receiving just over US$1000 dollars a month in recurring donations. Thank you all. I hope you have received your copy of Heart Yarns which comes with our heartfelt thanks.

This is greatly helpful in ensuring we can continue to support our South African KAS team to do their work with in their volunteer time and resources, but falls short, at this point, to appoint an operations manager as described in the appeal.

Please consider joining our growing band of KAS supporters with a small but regular donation. You can easily set this up through our PayPal donation form.

Every dollar goes toward making sure we get blankets on to vulnerable or orphaned children and that we spread both warmth and the word about their plight.


A visit from the USA to KAS SA

We received this letter and photographs from Melissa R. Rautenbach, College of Health Professions – Nursing, Temple University

Hi Sandy, I am in South Africa right now and was able to go over there last Thursday to drop off the squares. It was really wonderful to be able to have the opportunity to meet Ronda and to see for myself what happens to the squares. Ronda is an amazing lady for giving so much of herself to this project! Her house is surrounded in packages and squares.

I took a few pictures while I was there that I thought I would share with you. All the best, Melissa

From left to right: Ronda, Lindiwe, Melissa, Melissa's mother, Wandile, Samantha (Melissa's cousin and KAS volunteer now!)

Melissa followed this up with the news that her cousin Samantha was so touched by what she saw wanted to help out and she has indeed volunteered over a number of weeks for which we are very grateful. Melissa ended her email:

I must admit that I'm a little jealous that I'm not able to help out more directly. However, though university keeps me very busy, I am going to continue trying my best to make others here aware and encouraged enough to get involved. If you have any suggestions or advise regarding this, that would be great!

I have written to Melissa suggesting that perhaps her university may get involved in the same way that Dhanu's did and look forward to hearing from her in this regard.

KasKids™ News

Feedback on the Teacher Resource

We received this letter from Jackie some months ago about teaching her students to knit. I hope it might inspire some of you to purchase the Teacher Resource for a donation of $12.95.

It will help you get a school involved and further support the work we are doing in South Africa at the same time.

She wrote: I sending a few pictures of my 5th graders working on their squares. Like I mentioned before it's difficult to teach 21 , ten year olds how to knit. I found the teachers resource guide to be helpful in some ways. We have a smart board in our classroom, so showing the different parts of South Africa was very informative. The math page was great and some of the stories were very touching. We are knitting our squares from wool, so the properties of wool and that whole section was helpful. I needed to bring in adults from the community and retired teachers to help me. We are finally making some progress. It was nice to hear from you. Fondly, Jackie


Squares from Kankakee High School

Ronda made these brightly coloured lovely blanket layouts from the squares received from the kids of Kankakee Valley High School sent by their art teacher Stephanie Thilges, together with these vibrant loving letters. The squares will go to Antoinette McMasters sewing group to be made into blankets. Another inspiring contribution from a school, with grateful thanks.

From you

Here is a lovely cheery and happy poster from Erin Young in Brigham City, utah. Thanks everyone for this great contribution.

Feast your eyes on this beautiful work which arrived during the month. How pretty will some little girl feel in this bright GO-OVER?

KAS News

Some of the moderators in the forum, (Anne, Dawne, Debbie, Elizabeth, Erin, Jeanne, Kalai, Karen, Kyla, Rona and Sylvia and with help from RhondaH from ravelry) have been discussing ways to improve your experience in the forum this month. They have been working on navigation, cleaning up the categories, encouraging you to introduce yourselves and create your own blog and now the Pattern of the Month.

Pattern of the Month
We will soon be inviting you to submit your original patterns for possible selection as the Pattern of the Month. There will be criteria involved, that the pattern be original and that you are happy for us to publish it as a free pattern download. This is a wonderful way to challenge your crafting creativity and to contribute at the same time to growing our KAS membership as many people find us looking for free patterns. Look out this month for news of how to enter on the forum.

Dawne is also contacting knitting designers with a view to adding Designer Squares to our collection, which already features squares from Lucy Neatby, Kristeen Griffen Grimes and Diana Troldahl.

You can find these patterns on both the forum and in Zina's forum if you haven't already, take part in the challenges and in the various discussion threads, and we really look forward to meeting you.


Take a little comfort yourself

There are five new square lists on the knit-a-square site from May 25 to June 28. I think when you review the pages and pages of arriving post you will agree that everyone in South Africa has done an awesome job to clear the backlog.

Ronda makes notations against every parcel, "lovely stuff – old friend, truly beautiful squares, plus lovely long letter, message with God's blessings, grandma taught her, magnificent flower motif etc." She includes details of everything extra that has 'slipped in' as well.

We would so love to relay to each of you the way in which your letters, slip-in's, cards and notes touch us, but we must be pragmatic with our resources and use them the best way we can to serve the children. She gets many requests too for acknowledgement of receipt of the parcels, but we long since agreed that it is just not possible to meet all of these requests.

We realise that on occasion this may make some of you feel your wonderful contributions have not been met with due gratitude for your efforts. However, we greatly hope that the ezine (which is on average about every 5 weeks), news in the forum and All for Orphans will help you realise that everything you send finds its way, in time, to a needy child somewhere and they are comforted and warmed by your generosity.

You will see from the video, Vuselela sings their thanks, that gratitude for your magnificence is felt widely, by those who sew, those who share the volunteer work, the children who receive the blankets, those who work in South Africa to help these children. They feel real joy at this bounty. And connections keep being made with every stitch you make.

In a recent article in the spring edition of Interweave Crochet called Wrapped in Goodness, Betsy Greer of Craftivism made these wonderful observations about a blanket:

"…in times of need, a handmade blanket is infused with the goodness of human giving… …blankets are unique, because they fill an emotional need … … they are literally our protectors against the cold, our comfort when alone, and our companions in the dark."

At moments when you fear your work may not have reached it's destination, please comfort yourself with the thoughts that it and others like it have and will soon be, or already are, providing an abandoned, orphaned or vulnerable child with comfort and protection.

As at the 28 June we were only 4,127 squares away from the 100,000 SQUARE MAGIC MILESTONE! And on that truly exciting note, I will leave you with a quote from Dawne's latest blog: Universal Understanding. Clearly there is injustice in our world, but we are here also. YOU and I are here; we matter and we are not without the power to act…"

The next issue will be a special feature on KasCreches and the distributions we are currently making. But for now, we have so enjoyed bringing you this Square Circle issue with its stories of comfort and hope. These sentiments seem beautifully etched on the young faces of the children below.

Have a wonderful month and take great care of yourself, Sandy

To further support these children, you can donate here.


Newly orphaned children in your blankets

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.

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!

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!


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

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

The Orphans’ Lament

Our dear KAS friend,

At the end of this Christmas Video is The Orphans' Lament.

At this time of year, when children are so at the forefront of our minds, through its poignancy it reminds us that there is always hope.

It comes to you with our heartfelt gratitude for all you do to help the children.

When you've watched it, please join us here in the forum to take part in next years' challenges.

We greatly look forward to your company in 2013. You a very valued member of this remarkable KasCommunity and we wish you a wonderful Christmas and a New Year full of goodness.

Sandy, Ronda and the KasTeam worldwide.

You can purchase our new KasCalendar here.

You can join the Square Circle KasCommunity here.

Select your patterns from the KasPattern book on the forum to ensure you send exactly what the children need to keep them the warmest.

Join us for a discussion on donate a small amount of $5 or more a month to help us keep the operation going in South Africa.



Knit for orphans in Zimbabwe

Six cousins, several nieces, mothers, fathers, daughters and an aunt. A world of generous, caring, talented stitchers and 2.4 million orphaned and vulnerable children.

Zimbabwe knit-a-square • A bit of family history • Special needs kids – Amahle Day Care Centre • April Flag Challenge • What's in a size? • News from the forum

Many months have flown since the last edition of Square Circle. Since then, tens of thousands of hands have been busy making squares and stitching blankets so that many thousands of children will be warm this winter in South Africa, who would otherwise have been freezing.

Now, we have some very exciting news!

But first, on behalf of us all, we welcome our new Square Circle members who have joined since last December. You are part of a very special community of people around the world, who care deeply for the plight of all the children left to face a harsh life alone.

Zimbabwe knit-a-square

We are soon to expand our operation into Zimbabwe, officially the poorest country in the world and the birth place and ex-home of the family who founded KasCare and Knit-a-square, its primary program.

While South Africa has the awful tally of an estimated 1.9 million children orphaned, abandoned or made vulnerable as a result of HIV/AIDS and poverty, Zimbabwe's ratio of orphaned children is infinitely higher.

With nearly 1,000,000 orphans alive in 2009, Zimbabwe has the highest number of orphans, in proportion to its population, than any other country in the world, according to UNICEF.

As many as one in four children in Zimbabwe are orphaned as a result of parents dying from AIDS. *

The deterioration of this beautiful land and the suffering of its people is of great sadness to the founding family of KasCare and Knit-a-square.

We were all born in Zimbabwe during a time when the ravages of this disease, combined with the rampant poverty of today, were not evident.

It's also deeply painful to those family members who continue to live there and who witness the dreadful degradation of life facing these small children.

We are so heart-warmed, to be able to introduce our world-wide community to the children of Zimbabwe, and to garner your concern, care, love and crafting skills, to help warm and comfort them.

They are among the poorest children in the world and have been most terribly neglected as a result of the political and social situation they've been born into.

A bit of family history
To introduce the family in Zimbabwe who will be working to put blankets around children, let me give you a potted history, especially for those of you who have recently joined or who may have come to the project through channels other than our website.

Ronda and her family live in South Africa. They immigrated there from Zimbabwe in 1984.

Together with her core team of dedicated volunteers and board members, Lindiwe, Wandile, Wendy and younger daughter, Erin (when she can escape from her busy working life and two young children), Ronda runs the day to day operations of knit-a-square in South Africa.

They collect, open, sort and bundle the squares, record their arrival and then organise the stitching and distribution of blankets.

Many other special people have volunteered and continue to do so. Ronda is indebted to all of you who find your way to her home so regularly to open, catalogue and sort the parcels.

Our whole KasCommunity would like to thank you for ensuring their work is so lovingly handled.

Ronda is the youngest of four children. The oldest Zanny (short for Rozanne) is my mother. Roger, my husband and I, left Zimbabwe also in 1984 and moved to Australia with our two daughters, Kalai and Cressida, followed shortly by Zanny.

Kalai currently works two days a week in an administrative and communications capacity for KasCare (the registered charity here in Australia) and Cressida was responsible for developing most of our KasKids™ program (knit-a-square in schools).

Zanny and Ronda's sister, Charmian, lives in the UK and she and her husband Patrick are among our most substantial yearly donors.

The three sisters' brother, Peter, whose untimely death in 2010 prompted one of our most colourful challenges in the forum, has five children, three of whom live in Zimbabwe.

Peter would be entirely delighted to know that the challenge in his honour has been well and truly superseded by our current April Flag Challenge . More about that later, but please make sure you join in, it's fantastic.

Back to Zimbabwe.

Tracey (left) the oldest and Jessica (right) the youngest of Pete's daughters, are preparing to start knit-a-square in Zimbabwe.

The full history of how we started knit-a-square explains how Ronda's visit in 2008 to the our family living in Australia inspired the spark of an idea which resulted in the website and the building of this remarkable community, of which you are one.

There's more detail here, and although this page is just a bit out of date, it has some pictures of Kalai and Cressida as a children and it explains a bit more about how knit-a-square all started!

Like everything that happens in KAS, it's an organic process.

Many threads have been woven together toward this next, but necessarily small step.

Karen from the Methodist church in Atlanta, Georgia wrote about the possibility of of sending squares directly to their Church contacts in Zimbabwe.

The South African branch of the American company Cummins, a global leader in design, manufacture and servicing of diesel engines contacted Ronda to express interest in helping our work. Our hope is that this will eventuate in transport of the squares to Zimbabwe, volunteering and spreading the word through their USA branch and help in Zimbabwe through their Zimbabwean branch.

Wendy and Ronda are meeting with them again soon in Johannesburg.

Girls from Chisipite Senior School, ex-school of Zanny, Jessica,and me, have offered to stitch the first blankets.

Tracey and Jessica have made contact with an orphanage in a small town called Chitungwisa (chit-en-gweez-a) home to 20 children, around whom we can wrap the first blankets.

Erin to show the ropes
To help Tracey and Jess get started, we are hoping to fly Erin up to Zimbabwe to work with them to put together the processes that lead from squares to blankets to distribution. She will also take with her a repaired camera, so that Tracey and Jess can capture the results of your work and help tell the stories of the children.

This will allow us all to continue to spread the word about the dire situation that faces so many children in Zimbabwe.

We really need your help!

We hope that this appeal to help us warm the children of Zimbabwe will be met with your generosity. We hope too, that it will assist us to pay for Erin to go to Zimbabwe to get the project under way.

We would also like to give some special support to Amahle Day Care Centre, as explained below.

You need only add a dollar to the amount of your monthly donations to help us achieve that. If you don't yet donate, please consider a small monthly amount of $10 (the price of just three cups of coffee a month), to help us continue our work in South Africa and get the Zimbabwe project underway.

You can donate here.

A small recurring monthly amount will make an enormous difference to what we achieve on the ground in South Africa, if you make the commitment to help today.

Amahle Day Care Centre

Amahle (A-ma-lay) is in Protea South, opposite this tiny church, first shown in our ezine Hats on heads and snuggly wrapped children.

Amahle is special in terms of the creches we have distributed to and we would dearly love to make a very particular effort to support it and Ntabiseng who set it up.

As she has a Downe syndrome child of her own she started the day care centre with the idea of taking on as many special needs children as possible.  There is precious little support for these children and even less if they have lost a parent.

When Ronda, Wandi and Lindi went to distribute the blankets to Amahle, they wrapped blankets around small children who were autistic, had epilepsy or Downe syndrome.

Ntabiseng is so proud of all she has managed to do, although she told Ronda that more than half the carers cannot pay for the children.  She works very hard to give the children nutritional meals every day, although it is a struggle financially.

Ronda wrote with a heavy heart that she was fearful that Ntabiseng may not be able to continue without support. This little oasis for these heavily disadvantaged children requires our special attention. We greatly hope everyone reading this will see it as an opportunity to give generously for a specific cause. You can donate here.

Ntabiseng was absolutely filled with joy at our gifts for the children, the blankets, hats, vests, toys and some stationery as expressed in this video.


As an aside, Ronda has mentioned we are low on stationery. Our 'slip-in' mission has done so wonderfully to ensure that they are usually able to take pencils, paper, books and other bits of stationery whenever we distribute. The carers are always so delighted for this support.

Humble Little Achievers Day Care Centre
The photographs of this distribution are so touching of the children with their toys, wrapped in their beautiful blankets, we have posted the whole album on our Facebook Group and many more of the Amahle distribution as well.

You can spend ages looking at each little face, so often redolent of an emotion which is part joy, part sadness. When they smile, their little faces light up and in doing so they remind us so poignantly of why what you do is so valuable.


Ronda said these little ones in their KasCuddles were like dear little caccooned creatures, wiggling across the room!

April Flag Challenge
No one who loves stitching (knitting or crochet) should miss this challenge. Look at this work of art!

The challenge is being run by Mary Lokken, one of our moderators and a very generous and talented contributor. It is generating the most amazing responses. Flags from all over the world, even the most obscure little islands are being lovingly made. The children will be kept warm and have a geography lesson at the same time!

Please come on in and join us. Joining the forum is free, it's great fun and the KasCommunity is warm, vibrant, creative, caring and just plain extraordinary. We are continually in awe of what they do, how they help us, each other, and of course, the children.

It is so much more than knitting or crocheting squares, as beautiful as they are. The community experience is greater than that as Pam Antink, administrator in the forum explained: " The international aspect of the Flag challenge has made people look outside their own country and engage with others – this is brilliant and will continue the process of breaking down barriers between nations."

What's in a size?
Ronda has been troubled for a while now about the tiny weeny hats we are receiving in abundance. The reality is that the size of children's heads are almost as large as adult heads. She has sent this photograph as an indication of the correct size.

Also there a current Wish List in the forum you may wish to review. Linda Matlby and Carol Playford (moderators from Canada and the UK respectively) are compiling the definitive KasPattern book and we hope to bring that to you sometime soon.

News from the forum
Pam Antink has been doing a great deal of work behind the scenes to gather KasFolk from all around the world to help us do certain tasks on the forum and in general where we can identify a specific need. She is still working through the process, but we will publish a list of everyone involved and tasks they may have agreed to undertake on the forum soon.

Monthly newsletter
Pam has also undertaken to keep the community informed of monthly KasNews in a broadcast newsletter of the same name. You need to be a member of the forum to receive this, so please join up today.

Links to photographs of the distributions, the challenges, special photographs or videos in the forum and knitting patterns will all be included over time as well as member stories. If you are running an event for KAS or have introduced it to your school or community, please let Pam know in the forum.

Joining The Square Circle Forum is truly a great contribution you can make to KAS over and above stitching.

The more members, the more we will be found by others. The more activity on the forum, the more Google will reward us by ensuring the forum is found by other knitters and crocheters looking to knit for charity.

Remember, every last stitch, every cent on postage, every appeal, newsletter, photograph, event, challenge, indeed every effort by KAS or on behalf of KAS is done for the children.

All For Orphans
“The silence that surrounds children affected by HIV/AIDS and the inaction that results is morally reprehensible and unacceptable. If this situation is not addressed, and not addressed now with increased urgency, millions of children will continue to die, and tens of millions more will be further marginalised, stigmatised, malnourished, uneducated, and psychologically damaged.” Carol Bellamy (a former Executive Director of UNICEF.)

This statement has prompted my return to posting in All for Orphans. The hope is that I can be less sporadic as I will explain in the first article after some time to be posted on Wednesday 11 April.

Their are so many hopeful stories emanating from all over southern Africa as remarkable people set about addressing this dreadful tragedy. It will be a joy to report on these for you. If you want to follow this news about the children we care so much about, please visit the site and click the subscribe button.

Every child around whom we wrap a blanket on your behalf is told, "You're unique and special and you have a role to play in your country."

We cannot return their parents, or cure them of disease, nor can we ensure their safety, but we can warm and comfort them. By continuing to grow our currency of hope, build our community and raise awareness of the issue, we make a difference one square at a time. And we can do yet more.

Please consider our two appeals this Easter Monday and give as generously as you can afford. We are, as always, indebted to you, our beloved and remarkable KasCommunity.


Why would you name a bunch of boys after a weed?

Why would you name a bunch of boys after a weed?

Welcome, firstly to our new members since last week and secondly from this, the first of the Square Circle Updates.

Jabulani Khakibos Kids looks after a group of 35 resident boys who were previously street kids and some 120 homeless adults as well as feeding up to 30 children a week who live in the hills nearby. Recently Ronda went with Stephanie Burnett, the founder, to visit the home in which the boys live and to find out what the KAS community can do to help.


August 28 2009

The Jabulani Khakibos boys
The kids in the hills
Interview with Ronda
Great thread in the forum
Postal Strike


I hope you will read this story. We are all greatly excited at the prospect that this could be a very meaningful challenge for the KAS community to take up.

So why would you name a bunch of boys after a weed? Khakibos is a weed in South Africa, which nobody much likes, it’s considered useless, smelly, ugly and a pest. However it has medicinal qualities and also secretes an oil which can be used as a carrier for perfumes – so it is in fact very useful and has beautiful qualities, when one makes an effort to discover them.

This is why, as Stephanie explained, she named the organisation after this weed. The analogy is clear, people think of Khakibos as they think of street children, wanting neither.

Ronda wrote to say that she was hugely excited about this whole project. She met Stephanie and they headed off to Berea where the home is. "Talk about mean streets, wow! I was advised to hide my handbag and camera in the boot and keep my cellphone out of sight until we got there, although it was an uneventful trip and I didn't feel threatened for a moment."

While Stephanie has been involved with homeless kids since 1994, this operation has been going for about 6 years. In 2005 they were gifted a home in what would once have been a reasonably select area and they were donated a LDV Ford Ranger. While they are a registered charity, government funding is dwindling and they have had to reduce staff drastically to cut costs. But they are, as Ronda says, cheerful and accepting and they do a fantastic job despite needing so much more for their boys and other charges.

"We rejoice, sing, dance and celebrate because the children who were regarded as disposable, unwanted, "onkruid" (rubbish), inferior, "malundi" or a nuisance to society (like Khakibos), have now become a sweet smelling perfume – sought after, a pleasure to be with prized, valuable, welcome citizens of our Rainbow Nation" From Jabulani Khakibos Boys website.

Ronda visited during the day and the boys were all at school except for Anathi, above in his bright new beanie, a 12 year old who is very new to the centre and has not yet been registered in school. Ronda wrote: "He immediately asked if he could wash my car, even though it was sparkling clean already. Of course I said yes, and he did a lovely job – soap and all!"

The Jabulani Khakibos staff from the left, Stephanie, Anathi, Ellen (in black and white stripes), 3 lady volunteers, Ekani (care-giver), Thepo (counselor and social worker) a woman carer and Fundi.

Fundi, in the kitchen – she cooks up a storm as you will see by those huge pots of stuff like stew and soup !


Stephanie told Ronda that since they had to let their driver go for financial reasons, the children have to walk to school and back – 5kms a day – and complain of cold heads and ears, so she was thrilled with the hats you had made, some of them pictured here.

Below to the right is dining / recreation / homework / meeting area – recently covered with an awning thanks to kind donation. It must, none the less, be very cold at night and in the early mornings. Wouldn' t this be the perfect use for the GO-OVERS, which are a fabulous stash buster by the way!

The garage is current TV lounge – a little dank and dark. Ekani and Thepo explained that they have just finished a renovation of some rooms courtesy of a donation, but they daren't put anything of value in them until they could afford a full security system. You may just notice the razor wire security around the perimeter of the house in the photograph of the staff.

Stephanie leading the way to the ablution block. She says the area of soil either side of the pathway becomes a swamp in the rainy season – they are desperate to have someone put in drainage and cement the area for them.

On the right, one small homework nook for rainy days. This is where their precious computer sat, and now it's collapsed in a heap, much to everyone's misery.


The front garden above. Stephanie told Ronda nothing will grow under the trees but she is hanging onto them at all costs, because the boys love to climb them. She has wonderful ideas of installing a pizza oven and building a boma for the boys to use over weekends.


There are prayers and Bible quotes all over the walls of their dormitories … all the boys go to church.


These young boys have been given an opportunity that many of the orphans and abandoned children in the shack settlements have not. In fact, Jabulani Khakibos are rightfully proud that two of their graduates are being sponsored through University and one young man, who passed Matric last year with good marks, is waiting for someone to sponsor his university education.

They are none the less parent-less, abandoned or from abusive backgrounds, and living, for the moment, still in poor conditions despite the wonderful work that Jabulani is doing to care for them.

We believe that KAS can, by providing them hand made blankets, give them an even greater sense of homeliness. A GO-OVER each would certainly keep them warm in the dining and recreation room and on their 5 kilometre walk to school.

Ronda did take 26 blankets but soon realised they were too small, as she said, these are BOYS and need boy blankets, hardy, thicker and made out of boyish colours.

She wrote to ask, "can we do a special project, a TEEN BOYS BLANKET project, similar to the Ten Thousand Homes challenge – with GO-OVERS as well?" Ronda believes we can get all the boys names and sizes from Stephanie.

She also suggested we consider a street kid project (starting with the kids in the hills, see below). The best solution for this would probably be felted squares. What do you think? I will start a discussion here in the forum and hopefully we can get consensus in time for September.

Ronda was also very excited about for Christmas Boxes for these boys and despite our discussions lately on the difficulty of administrating boxes, I can see why this would work well as we will know well in advance exactly who we may be supplying gifts for. Again a subject for discussion in the forum here.

How dynamic are these different experiences? Each one so completely unique in the way in which, and who, we can help.

We really cannot know in advance at this early stage of knit-a-square what we may be confronted with and so while we are trying to do the best planning around what we do know, when an opportunity like this presents itself for us to make a meaningful difference, we believe you would want to help do the best for these young boys.

It would be a privilege to follow their progress and hope that they all manage to create a better life for themselves with the support of Jabulani Khakibos and perhaps, from others like the KAS community. Is it too much to imagine that if they did, their blankets would still be precious to them?

Kids in the Hills

After her tour of their JKK residence, Ronda set off following Eloise who is their outreach manager and looks after the homeless people. There are apparently dozens of homeless kids living under bushes and behind rocks on these very hills. This road is about half a kilometer from Johannesburg's premier sporting stadium, Ellis Park, down into the Bez Valley.

Ronda was a little nervous when they stopped here but Eloise is well known and she assured her that everything would be alright. These old, once gracious, homes are abandoned and occupied by squatter families.

Eloise called a young street/hill dweller out of the bushes at the back who Ronda gave this hat too before he ran away again. Imagine this young child in his bright purple hat, lives alone but for the company of the other children in the open in these stony hills. It almost defies belief.

Eloise says she feeds 20 or 30 kids in this area every week. The rest of the children wouldn't come out because they had seen a new face, Ronda, and they are apparently frightened of the possibility of a police raid. This happens from time to time and the children are rounded up and put into into state orphanages. One shudders to think how bad they must be, if these little children prefer to run away to live in these hills.

Ronda wrote: "While I was standing with this child, Eloise went towards the nearest house and handed a young woman one of the hats. She asked the young woman if she would pose for a photograph, with which she immediately ran away, screaming. I got the fright of my life, but Eloise explained that she was just terrified I was connected to police, and might use a photograph to get her taken into custody again. It was awful. These people are so traumatized.

Eloise called out to them that I came with messages from Australia and around the world that I was taking photographs to show the people overseas how much they were suffering, so that something could be done to help them. Some of them nodded their heads slowly and one gave me the thumbs up and a hopeful smile – which made me feel more choked up than ever.

It was surreal to think that if I ever tried to go there on my own it might endanger my life – they are that desperate. Amazing experience – so humbling.

There's so much we can do here with the help of Stephanie and Eloise. I truly hope we can do a "challenge" before next winter which will see a hundred PLUS big, preferably felted blankets go to these people. Food for thought ."

This is back in Athlone, which is where Eloise lives. These ladies gather every day outside her house, to be given some bread or yoghurt or something small to eat. It's their only sustenance, although I thought they looked positively affluent compared to the people we had been with just a few moments beforehand. Eloise (on the right with her little grand-daughter) is obviously a SAINT – as I was driving behind her I noticed so many people waving to her and smiling along the road … so lovely."



Teacher Resource

The Teacher Resource has sold 21 copies which is very exciting, if you think about the idea that there may be 21 schools who are going to be introduced to knit-a-square. For argument's sake, you may like to imagine that each school could produce 200 squares – that would be 4,200 squares, just this year. But should any of them achieve as Cedarwood did, that would be 84 000 squares.

Please, if you are involved in a school in any way consider this Teacher Resource both to get the school children knitting and to support knit-a-square. Thank you.




Interview with Ronda.

Many of you have expressed an interest in finding out more about how Ronda views the work she does for knit-a-square. So Roger, my husband, who is an ex-journalist, interviewed her recently using a very nifty little microphone devise while they were both on cell phones. Ronda was on her way to Tshwane Place of Safety in an area she did not know, so there are places in the conversation where she is a bit distracted! Given the places she is now visiting on behalf of knit-a-square, much of the interview was very relevant to this story.

If you go to the top left hand side of your HOME page (first item on the left of the menu bar) by clicking on this link, you will see under Music box, three icons named 1-Ronda, 2-Ronda, 3-Ronda. Start with 1-Ronda at the bottom. If you are not a forum member, you may need to join to listen. It is free and easy to do, with no obligations. I do hope this works, some technology tests me beyond my skills.

Ronda has also been a contributor recently to the very popular 'Pooh's Corner Group' on the forum!


Uncache your creativity for AIDS orphans AND become a published author

Don't forget to send us your submission for the KAS community ebook which we hope to publish in time for Christmas. There are some simple guidelines for you to go by in the forum here.


Monthly challenges – GREAT thread in the forum.

Elizabeth, a member in the forum wrote in the challenges discussion yesterday:

Another thought that I had might be 'knit a square in honour of someone else'. Let me explain. My granddad is now in a nursing home with severe dementia with very little idea of what is going on around him, and has been like this for several years now. He doesn't recognise anyone or anything, and most days he doesn't even open his eyes. We always struggle with what to give him as a Christmas gift, as there is nothing he needs or that would bring him joy, but yet I still cant bring myself not to give him a gift. I thought that for this year I would knit some squares for him, and send them off. He was/ is a very kind, caring and generous man, and I know that this would have made him happy. If my grandma, aunts and girl cousins and me all knitted two squares each, that will be 22 squares. If we can get the boys on board too, then that will be 44 squares. (We have an exact gender balance in our family! At least we did until I married my husband, but he can't knit, so we won't count him LOL) I digress..

I know if my grandpa was aware of the squares, that it would bring joy to him that a small child or two were being kept warm. He was a surgon who used to visit India to teach doctors there about effective, low cost treatments which could be done in poor conditions (eg wiring jaws together to prevent a tooth abcess, how to keep woulds clean with no running water etc). He would understand the difference that a warm vest for a baby or a blanket for a sick, cold child would make, and I'm sure it would please him that we had knitted these squares in his name.

I just thought that perhaps this idea might help those people who wanted to give a gift to a loved one who either doesn't need or want anything else, or wouldn't notice what they were given. Perhaps people could also knit squares in memory of a loved one who had passed, too?

This might be a challenge that is technically simple and therefore not overwhelming, but will still encourage and sustain the knitters/ crocheters. Thoughts?

Jeanne added: " "In Memoriam" month would be superb. It gets my mind going immediately. Would I make a GO-OVER in honour of my mom and all the sweaters she knit for us down the years, or would I make a blanket in honour of someone like Nelson Mandela? (yes, he's still with us but there are living memorials too right?)"

We think this is a fantastic idea. We could produce a card in which you could share with the recipient of the square/s who they are dedicated to and why. Look forward to your feedback and ideas. Thank you Elizabeth.


Heritage Blanket

39 people have purchased Heritage Blanket. Thank you very much for your support. If any of you are currently knitting or have completed a blanket, please share your results with us as they should all be works of art. You could post your photographs on the forum photos page here. You will also get to enjoy the wonderfully creative efforts of others, especially around the August in Africa theme.



Postal Strike

There is a postal strike in South Africa. While it is giving Ronda and the SCC ladies a chance to catch up, she is preparing for a veritable deluge in a week or two's time. She has asked me to communicate this to you incase she is late with the data for the next ezine.


So much for the quick update! I leave you with this lovely photograph of a go-go (grandmother) in a GAP hat! She is a reminder to us of the burden so many grandmothers in Africa bear, having lost many of their children. Among the many generous and creative ideas for challenges being discussed in the forum, is Anne's idea that we do something for the go-gos. Could be a grandmother hat, or a prayer shawl challenge perhaps? Look forward to your thoughts.

Have a lovely weekend everyone, happy knitting and crocheting, stay well and safe, Sandy

PS – for those of you who may not have received the epic Square Circle Issue No: 13 last week, here is a link to the back issues.