What's happening KAS?

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What's happening KAS . . .?

 

As always we are so happy to welcome more than 200 new subscribers to the ezine and members to the forum. If this is the first time you have received Square Circle, you may enjoy reading some of the previous issues to give you an idea of the work we do in South Africa, to warm the children with your wonderful work.

Contents
What's happening KAS . . .? • Oh happy day • Nkosi Haven • Nkosi Johnson • Trust us • Time to 'OPRAH' Kas! • KAS in our schools • Just a few dollars ADD up • RAVELYMPICS • Slip-overs • Your beautiful work

. . . ERIN!
Firstly, we are thrilled to introduce you to Erin (pictured above with Patience). Many of you may already know her to be Ronda's daughter, as she has often volunteered her help for distributions and opening days.

Here in Australia, we were so relieved when she put up her hand to work part time for us for a small stipend. Who better than someone already so familiar with KAS and also aware of the fragility of our funding. She will be of great help to Ronda in collections, communications, distributions, database recording, local PR and promotions and school activities. She will also be your direct access to what is happening on the ground in South Africa in the forum. This is proving to be a very popular thread, so pop on over and introduce yourself!

Patience's story follows later on . . .

. . .GIFTS FOR THE JABULANI KHAKIBOS KIDS
We have all the squares now bundled and Ronda and Cheriel, who we introduce you to below, are busy sewing the blankets up. Ronda is anxious to make sure that the 35 blankets are complete before winter. I think we will all be taking blanket packs with us to Kruger National Park in less than 3 weeks time! GO-OVERS are arriving now too for the boys.

The money has arrived in South Africa for the three computers donated by Erica Smith in Melbourne. We hope very much that by the time we visit, they will be installed and we can report first hand on the boys using their computers.

Welcome back to school! The picture says it all. Ronda said their excitement at these stationery gifts was palpable, so thank you for those little 'slip ins'. Look how happy you have made these kids.

. . .THE COSMO CITY BLANKET WARMING PROJECT
As you will read further on, many thousands of squares have been put toward this project - a joint venture between Oasis International, KasCare and Mosaiek Church Community. We are really excited about the collaboration to widely involve the Cosmo City Community in sewing the blankets and learning to knit and crochet themselves.

Oasis hopes very much that this will be an annual affair. On March 11, Ronda will meet Nolene for a full presentation of how to bundle and join the blankets. Then on May 15 the Mosaiek Church will involve their community in a Sewing Marathon with the aim of joining upwards of 70 blankets. Oasis is also planning to engage their UK and India branches, so it will be a truly international affair.

. . .DISTRIBUTIONS
Wandile has been taking up batches of squares a week back to Soweto where they continue to be joined by volunteers in her parish. She looks after 8 creches and she has distributed to some of these during the summer months. At present we are really stockpiling blankets for distributions closer to the cooler months. We are also making contacts with new creches and orphanages outside of Johannesburg.

Recently Erin wrote a piece about a distribution to the Katia Day Care Centre, Malvern run by Jacqueline Madiba, who spends time walking the mean streets looking after children who are out on the pavement after dark. To read her story, please visit on the forum.

 

 

. . . ANOTHER KAS WONDERFUL VOLUNTEERS
Meet Cheriel. Cheriel had a personal target of stitching together 100 blankets which she has just reached. That would represent nearly 500 hours of work. We are all so grateful for such commitment to putting warm blankets around the children. Thank you Cheriel. She also distributes blanket packs to many of her friends.

One of her friends is terminally ill and it seems she has found such a sense of joy and purpose stitching the blankets, knowing she is making a contribution. Ronda mentioned too Jeanette and her team who regularly fetchs 5 or so blanket packs. Making a difference, a blanket pack at a time! We are going to have a wonderful stockpile by winter.

 

. . . CORPORATE NEWS
Peter, Ronda's husband made a business visit to Nampak South Africa. When he found the receptionist busy knitting, he asked her what she was making. She started to tell him all about Knit-a-Square! He listened to her whole description and then told her about his own “connection” and she was delighted. We are expecting more than 1000 squares to be delivered. The secretary to the MD phoned to tell Ronda how the entire company – executive men included – were knitting flat out in a competition to make the most squares for us. Go Nampak!

 

. . . DO YOU REMEMBER JAMEY?
Wandile mentioned that she sees Jamey often. Jamey received our very first blanket on March 28th 2009. He is disabled and in a wheelchair and you can watch the video here, toward the bottom of the page. She told Ronda that Jamey is NEVER without his blanket, rain or shine.

 

. . . Oh happy day

The Soweto Gospel Choir and KAS event held on January 30 in Philadelphia was a great success. Our blog in the forum immediately after the event reported on the joy of the evening as described by Debbie Posmontier. Debbie above, worked really hard to organise the KAS side of this evening. It was such a great story, Roger interviewed her by telephone (lovely too to hear the voice of someone you have been in such constant contact with by email) and the story is on the KasCare website. I hope you will take the time to read it, as it really confirms what we can achieve with collaboration.

We would also like to officially thank all of you who rose to the challenge to knit, send and join the squares into the 27 blankets we received. A special mention for Jackie Sousa who has taken the blankets back with her and between her employer's donations and the donations we received on the night, is organising the postage of the blankets to South Africa.

The blankets are to be given to the orphans of Nkosi Haven which is run by Gail Johnson. We are meeting with Gail on March 28 and it is our great hope that they will have arrived by then. It will be a highlight of our forthcoming trip to South Africa to be there with Ronda. Now read on as to why this effort was SO meaningful!

The girls of Musica Mundi Choir, Springside School walk on stage to present the choir with the blankets for the orphans the choir support. The evening ended with the choir, the girls and the audience singing 'Oh Happy Day".. For more photographs and the interview with Debbie, see the website.

 

Nkosi Johnson and Nkosi Haven

 

 

This is the beginning of the famous speech Nkosi Johnson, after whom the orphanage Nkosi Haven is called and where the blankets will be distributed, made for the opening ceremony of the 13th International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa:



"Hi, my name is Nkosi Johnson. I live in Melville, Johannesburg, South Africa. I am 11 years old and I have full-blown AIDS. I was born HIV-positive.


When I was two years old, I was living in a care center for HIV / AIDS-infected people. My mommy was obviously also infected and could not afford to keep me because she was very scared that the community she lived in would find out that we were both infected and chase us away.

I know she loved me very much and would visit me when she could. And then the care center had to close down because they didn't have any funds. So my foster mother, Gail Johnson, who was a director of the care center and had taken me home for weekends, said at a board meeting she would take me home. She took me home with her and I have been living with her for eight years now.

He went on to tell the story of how he got into school and then his mother died. He ended the speech:

Because I was separated from my mother at an early age, because we were both HIV positive, my mommy Gail and I have always wanted to start a care center for HIV / AIDS mothers and their children. I am very happy and proud to say that the first Nkosi's Haven was opened last year. And we look after 10 mommies and 15 children. My mommy Gail and I want to open five Nkosi's Havens by the end of next year because I want more infected mothers to stay together with their children- they mustn't be separated from their children so they can be together and live longer with the love that they need.

When I grow up, I want to lecture to more and more people about AIDS- and if mommy Gail will let me, around the whole country. I want people to understand about AIDS- to be careful and respect AIDS- you can't get AIDS if you touch, hug, kiss, hold hands with someone who is infected.

Care for us and accept us- we are all human beings.

We are normal. We have hands. We have feet. We can walk, we can talk, we have needs just like everyone else- don't be afraid of us- we are all the same!"

Nkosi died of complications of the HIV/AIDS virus in June 2003. His foster mother Gail Johnson told a local newspaper, "Look at him. Half the size of bloody nothing and still fighting."

So this is the centre that Soweto Gospel Choir supports and where your beautifully worked blankets will go. Nkosi would be greatly pleased I am sure.

Gail wrote: Hi Sandy - this is wonderful and it certainly sounds as though EVERYONE had the time of their lives on the night as well as ‘putting the plan’ together - thank you. The Choir are magnificent aren’t they? I go cold (need a blanket!!!) every time I hear them sing.

We recently had the official opening of the Village so I will send you pics so you can see our facilities and the additions we have made, to offer our moms and kids the best we can afford.

There is a book out on Nkosi (released ages ago) called “We are all the Same” - written by Jim Wooten, the ex News Correspondent of ABC TV (American) - which really gives the story of Nkosi - Jim certainly captured his spirit. Thank you all so very, very much for thinking of us and for your amazing energy and enthusiasm.

I found this photograph almost unbearably poignant. Beautifully appointed cots and decorations waiting to accommodate little babies who may be orphaned, abandoned and or infected with HIV/AIDS. I hope that the blankets they are wrapped in will comfort them through out their lives. And we should all be very grateful for people like Gail Johnson, who has dedicated her life to giving HIV/AIDS infected mothers and their children or orphans a place like home.

 

 

 

. . . trust us!

We asked for your patience in the last issue of Square Circle with regard to the opening of the boxes and parcels that are currently stored safely in Ronda's home. And now we ask for your TRUST.

Lindiwe and Ronda, Wandile or Erin (not necessarily altogether all of the time) can only process and document 800 squares (plus other items) sensibly at a sitting. Over the weekends, Peter, Ronda and various visitors open parcels as well, but it is easy to imagine how quickly a backlog occurs. This weekend, Peter and Ronda opened and processed 2,000 squares!

They also have to be mindful of storing the squares once they are opened, before being able to bundle them and distribute them to the various groups of sewers. None the less, the job is being done with love, consistently and with consideration for your amazing work and, it is being done on a shoestring!

So PLEASE do not stop sending squares because of this. The McDonald family will certainly work hard to help put a dint in the backlog when we are there, and over time, we will arrange means by which we can open, sort and bundle the squares at a greater pace. For now, we ask that you understand that the boxes and parcels are safely stored and are being opened in a logical order and as fast as the resources we have can manage.

You will see that there are no United States parcels opened in the last two square lists, but that a huge quantity of US parcels and boxes have gone to Oasis. Nolene Vonk, who is co-ordinating the Oasis International/KasCare project, and with whom we are in regular contact will organise teams to open each parcel, catalogue them and return to Ronda any hats, vests, GO-OVERS or gifts in each.

There is also a HUGE quantity of USA and remaining UK parcels in Ronda's house from at least a month ago.

Everyone involved in this process is acutely aware of your concern to know that your contribution is safely in South Africa and appropriately distributed for the purposes for which they have been sent. But we must ask please, that having given for the purposes of warming these children and seen the results of your wonderful efforts in ezines, you trust that this is what is happening, even when your name might not be on the list.

Ronda also suggested that we think about doing as a new contributor called Kathleen Buckley Collins from Maryland has done. Kathlen put a tick on the postal manifest - where it asks “in case of non-delivery, tick one of the following”  - that if her parcel went astray it should be send to the Red Cross. Great idea.

We are happy though, to report that as far as we know nothing has gone astray. 

You can access the three lists up to February 11 2010 here.

The power of ZERO!
Ronda has asked: "Please can everyone, where possible, put big ZERO’s for every value – weight, volume, value, size – ALL the dimensions, regardless, and perhaps then our customs folk will stop creating values out of misunderstood numbers and levying charges! " Apparently a parcel came in with 70ozs written on it, and as a result customs insisted on charging duty as if it was $70US for FOUR squares!

We cannot cover every circumstance by which we can reduce duty. And as mentioned earlier, the duty has certainly been less since everyone has so diligently marked: No Commercial Value and For Charity Only. But we can certainly lessen the possibilities of duty further where this is possible. We are in fact very grateful to note that for the most part things are running wonderfully smoothly, despite these little glitches. And if we can assist that process just a little further we will be even more thankful!

Wandile holding a delightful jumper, with Erin and the latest little arrival in the Lowrie camp, Patience (4).

Patience's story
Patience's father, who works on a game farm far to the North West of Johannesburg, hoping to find a place for her in the local nursery school, left her with his cousin, Otilla, who works for Ronda. Patience doesn't speak a word of Zulu or English so even Otilla is battling to communicate with her. Still, Ronda says she is happy little girl, even though she has been sent hundreds of kilometres from her family to go to school. Such is the value placed on education. Makes you think doesn't it?

 

. . . just a few dollars ADD up!

Firstly a HUG and much gratitude to our members who have donated this month and to those who have take up the recurring donation system. We would love to encourage you to take up the recurring donation system set up by Karen in the forum. If everyone donated just a small amount each month, then we could fulfil so much more in terms of getting blankets on children and KasKids into schools to teach the next generation of children to knit and be concerned for the orphan's welfare. Simply click on the donation button on the right hand side of the page here.

 

 

 

. . . time to 'OPRAH' Kas!

Everyone is agreed that if KAS was to be picked up by Oprah, many good things would eventuate. Certainly, thousands more members and contributors to our cause, a greater awareness of and for the orphans, but also an increased likelihood of some funding. Simply put, funding will ensure that we bring warmth and comfort to so many more thousands of orphaned children.

How? Well firstly we could pay small amounts of money to homeless women to help bundle and sew the blankets. This in itself would be an enormous act of charity and if those women had children, there would be trickle down benefit to the child as well. We would also be better resourced to organise a volunteer base. As the volume of squares increased we would need to manage it through dozens of volunteers.

If we are serious about warming thousands and thousands of orphaned children, then this is the sort of planning we must do.

Oprah supports AIDS orphans herself in South Africa and so ours would be a cause close to her heart, if we could just get close to her heart!

 

 

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead

 

While we have had several attempts, and many of you have written already, Dawne, an active member of our forum, has made the following very worthy suggestion which we are following up.

Keeping this little one warm this winter
If you want to help warm this adorable child and thousands like her, then here's what we would like you to do! the goal is to get as many of you all writing on the same day.

1. This Thursday, March 3, copy and paste this paragraph, or write you own version below into the email form,

We would like to reach the many millions of knitters and crocheters to ask them to join our warm knit-a-square community of over 3,000 folk, who lovingly send 8” squares to make hand-made blankets for South African AIDS orphans. So far we have sent 57,000 squares and this year we have a goal of 100,000 squares. We need your help to warm these children who have so little, and whose number is growing by staggering 500 children a day.

2. It is very important that you add your own message as to why you believe Oprah should include KAS on her show.

3. Copy a link from the back issues of the newsletter into your email to direct those reading the emails to your most favorite story in the ezines. You might like to say something similar to this:

"You might like to read the story here about the Hill Kids/Zeverfontein creche children/etc," (or which ever of the distributions touched you.) Or - "the photographs of these children have greatly touched me, they may touch you too. It is important that you write from your heart about why KAS and the work we do moves you.

4. As soon as you have done that, hop into the forum to let us know if you have heard anything back. This will generate a lot of energy and encourage others to participate.

5. One week later, follow up with an polite email, that just asks if they have received your request and is there any other information they may like. You could suggest they have a look at the website or the forum. Here are the three links to copy into your email. knit-a-square Square Circle Forum KasCare

We would love to send postcards to as part of this campaign, but we have not been able to find a physical address for the Oprah show. If anyone can find it, please post it in the forum and we will add that to the campaign.

As Dawne wrote:

They welcome suggestions as you will see from visiting the website. 3,000 members respectfully requesting KAS/KAScare as a show idea. Suddenly, millions of people, many of them knitters, know about KAS. You don't knit? Be an 'angel' and give $10 during the commercial break. It's so quick, so easy to do. Just a click and Pay Pal a transaction. Or hey, learn to knit - it'll do you good!

Let's generate a lot of energy around this. We believe Dawne is right and such a concerted effort could have the desired outcome. We need all the help we can get.

 

. . . KAS in our schools

Last week Cressida was invited back to present the KasKids™ School Program at her old school, Methodist Ladies College here in Melbourne to just short of 600 year 11 and 12 students. MLC is encouraging their international baccalaureate students to take up KAS as their compulsory social studies component which is truly a wonderful achievement for us. Cressida did a great job and I was very proud to see her standing on the stage, which we had last seen her on at the end of her school career 10 years ago! She has written a piece on it, and I hope you will read it here on the KasCare website.

From a HUGE school with over 2,000 students to the wee, Drummond school with just 13 students, we visited last year. We were so delighted to receive these photos and the card signed by all the students. Thank you for your great contribution everyone and we hope you will knit again next year and make another blanket for an orphan.

Pool Hayes Arts and Community School sent bundles and bundles of items. Ronda said it was a wonderful contribution.

Well done schools! Since the beginning of this year another 29 Teacher Resources have been purchased which we are excited to think means another 29 schools participating.

 

 

 

. . . Ravelrympics

 

The KAS ravelry group put together TeamKAS for the Ravelrympics to be run for the duration of the Winter Olympics. It looks like Team KAS has outperformed itself as is usual for our wonderful KASERS. Well done everyone and thank you to our mods, RhondaH and Kyla and to Rona (Rondaletts) for organising and running the event.

Last tally Saturday 27 Feb:

TeamKAS Totals - Ravelrympics team:

jow1306 - 9 squares, 6 hats, 1 vest

ramblinroo - 2 squares

RhondaH - 3 squares, 3 hats

SassySean - 2 squares

rondaletts - 7 squares, 5 hats, 2 Izzy comfort dolls
TeamKAS Totals - KASlympics team (reporting/tracking at KAS Forums):

Squares: 35

Hats: 13

Go-Overs: 1
Total Team KAS Items: 89

 

 

Isn't this a great testimony to your creativity. The concept of a simple two sided long vest is put forward and look what you produce. The long term goal is to make all these patterns available as 'KAS' pattern downloads, where they are original patterns and we have permission from their creators to do so. To that end many of you have sent us the patterns, for which we are very grateful. In the meantime, Elaine Jones has uploaded this charming pattern to knit-a-square and Anne Powell has added many to the forum under patterns/apparel. Thanks to both of you and to the contributors.

 

. . . your beautiful work

We would really like to highlight the arrival of 19 boxes this year from Leaksdale Church!

This is the church of one of our forum administrators, Anne Powell. What a great contribution, lots of stationary and hats and an amazing 680 squares. Our most grateful thanks to the Leaksdale Church Community.

On top of the great work they have done, this is also inspirational. You will see that the sending of the squares has been sponsored by individual families within the church. A great way to get non-knitting folk to be part of the work we are doing. Any of you having difficulty with postage, perhaps you could consider a similar idea. I know that Anne would be very happy to talk to you about exactly how she did it. Hop on into the forum and start a discussion with on the forum under the spread the word discussion.

We were delighted to see a large contribution from Australia in the last two months including the biggest box we have ever received from the Lutheran Prince of Peace College, 165 squares from Mavis Patterson from the Heidlellberg Choral Society which is in Ivanhoe where we live, and also the choir my mother, Zanny used to sing for. Lovely surprise.

 

We also posted off just over 50 kilos of knitted items from Australia that had been kindly donated to my mother and myself over the last year. Susan Oliver and Pam Robinson made this possible though their generous donations for the postage. It was a great relief to see these huge boxes safely on their way. It is with sadness that we have requested no further donations directly though us, but would greatly welcome ongoing contributions to be sent directly to South Africa.

The first KasCuddle arrives in South Africa. Lindiwe was thrilled and felt certain that this will be very successful for new born babies. You can find details on the forum

Aren't these beautiful. You can imagine how happy a little child will be with these squares in their blankets.

From ravelry - just some fabulous work. DnaDiva's Africa Square is SO clever.

Gifts galore!

Scrap books from Helen Flagg to inspire you. These books will be greatly treasured by our small pre-school orphans and are now a central plank of the new KasKids™ program. We are looking forward to launching the new program and introducing you to it.

A lovely message from Joukje Wynholds from the Netherlands.

Erin and Debbie from the Bez Valley sewing group showing off the beautiful blanket made with 72 tiny squares we received recently. And Erin modelling some of the beautiful work contained in the Prince of Peace contribution.

 

 

 

 

SUPPORT TINA WHO SUPPORTS US

 

On of our forum members, Cindy wrote to tell us:

"My daughter, Tina Day, has been named Mrs. Oregon City International 2010. The Mrs. International Pageants recognize women for their dedication to their families, their professional accomplishments and their community. Tina has always had a heart for children. She, her husband and family are a foster family and they have adopted 2 of their fostered children. You already know of her commitment to Knit-a-Square.

In April 2010 she will compete to represent the state of Oregon at the International level.

Cindy and her husband Dave sponsored an advertisement in the pageant program and donated it to KasCare which is wonderfully generous. We wish Tina everything of the best in her quest to be Mrs.Oregan International 2010. You can support her through her blog.

 

 

FROM THE ED!
I was to make a concerted effort this time not to write a novel. But KAS is a constantly unfolding story - there is so much to tell you. We leave in 2 weeks and 3 days for our epic South African journey and there will be even more to tell you after that. However, we are going to try to do somethings differently. Erin will be reporting more regularly on on-the-ground happenings in South Africa in the forum. PLEASE JOIN now if you haven't already.

I know you are busy too, so this may be the last of the really long ezines, but between updates, KasNews on the forum and the KasCare.org website, I don't think you will miss a jot of what is happening.

Take care, until South Africa then, with great fondness, Sandy