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.

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