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.


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