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!)
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.
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!