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Your gifts light up sad eyes - SC #1,2010
January 22, 2010
Square Circle Ezine #1 – January 2010
Your gifts light up sad eyes
It was the weeks before Christmas and then, in a the blink of an eye, suddenly we are nearly at the end of January. Does it feel to you like a very long time ago already?
Despite the break, our membership has continued to grow rapidly (only 1 short of 700 members in the forum and a torrent of squares to pour into South Africa. Many busy hands have continued to work throughout to help warm our children in 2010. We are going to have a wonderful stockpile of warm blankets and clothes to distribute, as we approach winter this year.
What a heartwarming and inspiring reality, that many children who would have shivered their way through cold,dark nights will now lie snuggled and warm under a blanket or in a GO-OVER or if they are a tiny wee one, perhaps in our newest addition to the KAS patterns, the KAScuddle (patterns will be up very soon).
Even though it is past Christmas, this ezine will bring you photographs of some of the many children who were handed a package of gifts as a result of your generosity. There is also news of our collaboration with the international charity, OASIS in a joint endeavor to bring 500 blankets to the children of Cosmos City this year and our latest activities, KasKids™ the Soweto Gospel Choir Event and our KASonline efforts.
Everything we all do, every stitch, every square, every idea works to benefit a child whose chances in life, through no fault of their own, have been drastically curtailed. So welcome to our new members and here's to us all outreaching our achievements of 2009 in 2010.
An exciting moment delayed!
We were so hoping that the new KasCare website would be ready to launch in time for this ezine. It is built, but we are still populating it.
My guess it will be ready to go live by Friday 29th January, just in time for the Soweto Gospel Choir event on January 30th.
So keep trying www.KasCare.org
KasCare teams up with international charity Oasis
We're kicking off with a bang in 2010! Our first project for the year is a collaboration with Oasis, a global charity, who works with children at risk, vulnerable women and girls, whole communities, churches and as an advocate for others.
We are delighted to be partnering with them on a Cosmo City Blanket Warming project. Cosmo City is a new development to the north of Johannesburg. Recently established, it has in fact absorbed many of the residents previously from the Zevenfontein and River Bend settlements.
These include the children from the small crèche we distributed to last year in May.
While Cosmo City has been developed to afford an improved quality of life, by providing better housing and facilities, the project has experienced significant setbacks. As in many of the settlements in and around Johannesburg there is little to no access to formal sources of income. This further destablises an already fragile community by contributing to increased poverty, violence and illness. Child headed households are prolific and they need of our help.
We know this is possible – we’ve seen you work miracles already.
In addition to our efforts, Oasis will initiate a Cosmo City Knitting Club where people with basic knitting or crocheting skills can join us in warming the children of Cosmo City. This will also create an opportunity for women to learn a new skill.
Furthermore, the project will also involve the scores of women visiting the antenatal clinic. Each woman visiting the clinic will be given sufficient squares for a blanket, which they can sew together during the long waiting hours. The blanket will then be theirs to keep for the birth of their child. Bear in mind, these women, oftentimes very young, are destitute and live in terrible poverty, and sadly are often affected by HIV/AIDS.
Sandy commented in a recent blog on the forum that: Another factor we should consider is that an appalling 70,000 babies are born, in South Africa, each year infected with HIV. Not only are these children likely to be orphaned but they are already imperiled at birth, by this disease and need to be kept warm.
Introducing KasKids™ to the UK and India
The project promises to be a great success by drawing on both agencies varied and vast networks and supporters and the added resources on the ground through Oasis.
With our stock of squares already in place and the volume that they continue to arrive, we are very optimistic that 500 children, who would have otherwise suffered a long and cold winter will be warm, wrapped in the fruits of your loving contribution.
Your gifts light up sad eyes
Apart form the huge volume of 'slip-ins, fall-ins and drop-ins'* that found their way from all over the world to South Africa last year for the children, Ronda was thrilled with these large parcels which arrived from the
(* See KASisms in the forum- our own KASlingo, a 'slip-ins, fall-ins and drop-ins'* is defined as a "items of a non-knitted nature (like school supplies, teddies etc), which for some reason beyond our control, seem to find their way into the boxes of squares we are packing up to mail!")
Many of their staff had never knitted and specifically learned to do so for KAS. Then they decided to start this Christmas project. They filled 20 boxes with sweets, soaps and pencil cases which they made themselves. In addition, there were 18 home made teddies all named after the people in the company. The beautiful little girl pictured at the top, is clutching one of those teddies and we really hope that you and the good folk of J Muller Laboratories read this ezine and see how much pleasure their and your efforts have brought these children.
Ronda spoke to Heloise about helping to organise more Christmas distributions as a result of this profusion of gifts, (the first one having been made to the children of Sedibeng). Heloise said she would see if she could pick up some of the Hill kids (pre-schoolers mostly) into her bakkie (utility van) and bring them down to the Hoefflin Centre during December. It was also an opportunity to give the children blankets.
These children are the 'regular' Hoefflin Centre visitors ... the grandchildren mostly of the go-gors who are helping us with the sewing. They were all so bored this morning so I gave them chairs and made them line up and pretend they were in the train, or a taxi - and the front child was ' the driver'. They loved it and were so cute they stayed in the line for about 45 minutes!
Heloise's 'crew' ... she says at least 8 of these kids are Hill Kids who she had collected, but she didn't say which ones. They are apparently mostly orphans or abandoned and ALL live in extremely straitened circumstances.
All the children received fizzers, peanuts and raisins, chips and biscuits, grapes an apple and cold drink as a present from me, as well as a packet of gifts.
As the children were leaving. Heloise says the woman pictured here runs a crèche for indigent kids and she has taken some of the Hill kids to see whether they will become socialized. (ED: Ronda hopes to visit this creche at some point this year and we will follow up on this story as the Hill Kids are very much in the hearts of the KAS community.)
She sat in the back with all 20 of these kids! I could NOT believe my eyes - luckily not too far to travel, but hope the police didn't pick them up. It's amazing how cheerful these little ones can be, actually - just point the camera and ask for 'cheese' and they fall over themselves to comply. You're going to love them!
On a personal note!
I'm sure we are. And know that they are going to tear at our heartstrings. We can't wait to bring you stories of our experiences in meeting some of these little children.
This time in exactly 8 weeks we will be on a flight (that is Zanny, Roger, Kalai and her boyfriend Glenn, Cressida and her fiance Sunny and myself) about to land in South Africa for a month. Apart from a huge family reunion planned for long ago in 2005, the purpose of our visit is also now all about KAS.
We plan to meet all the wonderful folk who have done so much work for us all on the ground, Lindiwe, Wandile, Heloise and Thandeka to name a few, to visit the parishes, charities and orphanages through which we have distributed blankets and, of course, and most importantly, to meet as many of the children as we can. We also look forward to meeting the team at Oasis and to seeing our mutual work first hand in Cosmo City. If time permits, we hope to present at schools in South Africa as well. It will be a very long ezine on our return!
KAS in our schools
We’ve often talked about how important it is that we teach students around the world about the plight of the AIDS orphans and what they can do to help. You may have seen, or even purchased our Teacher Resource, which has loads of background info for the teacher and four simple lesson plans to follow, meaning students get the benefit of activating their social justice radars, as well as learning to knit!
We are in the process of revising the Teacher Resource, so as to turn into a fully-fledged social studies program for students of both elementary and secondary ages. The KasKids™ program will come complete with lesson plans, activities, handouts, a presentation and a little book of fundraising ideas, to help consolidate the students learning.
We are also inaugurating the Pledge to Tell, an awareness raising activity which we hope will reach a community of up to 500 people for every school the program is introduced to.
In the meantime, the success stories of the schools that have already taken on the knit-a-square project can be very heartwarming.
Here is just one of them, from KAS forum member Dawne, who writes …
“We had a very good first of year meeting today. One very touching moment was when I came to the school 11 min. early and found 5 kids waiting in front of the library. I think they like to knit!
Other great moments:
A 5th grade boy was knitting along and had a mistake so he had to wait for my help. There were several kids with very... ahem... creative errors so I didn't get to help him at all. He sat quietly the whole time, waiting patiently. I asked him to please remind me next week that he is absolutely the first one in line for my attention.
Another great moment was when 2 kids came up with a fundraising idea. They want to sell scarves at the next Christmas Santa workshop and at the next book fair. I very casually said "or ornaments b/c they are smaller and can be sold more cheaply" b/c I didn't want to discourage them. They liked that idea.”
We think you’ll agree that to garner this kind of commitment and enthusiasm from students about a project that teaches them that they can make a difference in this world, is highly beneficial to their development.
The Fisher Island School After Care Knitting Club sent to us by Leslie Tombari. We have featured some of their squares below in Your Beautiful Work. Please send us photographs like this, if your school is involved as it certainly illustrates how keen the children are to help the orphans.
KAS community snippets
A parcel for Heloise's abandoned baby from Ronda
Handbags for Hoefflin Sewers
A wish list item from Ronda
The Lowrie's tribe
Gift for the JKK boys
Kim, wrote that her shop, the Frog and Sheep Shop, sponsored the lunch (pictured below) and will be also sponsoring the March knit-a-thon. Thank you Kim, that is very generous of you and it is always great to hear of such support for the children. Please thank your members too. Hope you will all join the forum.
Delightful designers dish up for KAS!
The web is a wonderful thing. We’ve all experienced its magic, seeing the community of KASer’s grow and grow. It seems not a day goes past when an interesting person or opportunity doesn’t present itself. So it was when we met Zina, through Dawne Sliming Smith, a well known forum member, whose blogs many of you will have read on Zina's site, Another Long yarn.
Zina created the KAS Knitalong and Gallery page on her blog and invited two of the crafting world’s well renowned and highly talented designers to produce square designs specifically for the project.
We are delighted that Lucy Neatby and Diana Troldahl (with yarn supplied by Kirsty Clarke of Wharfedale Woolworks), have lent their design prowess to our cause, producing these stunning squares. You can download their patterns which they have both generously donated to KAS from the KAS knitalong page. They will go up on forum soon too.
You can also view other fabulous squares that have either been modeled on their squares, or are original patterns here on the KAS knitalong page . Some of them are made by forum member: Diane McTique who is well known to us for her gorgeous work on the forum. (See her squares below too).
Diana's square Ocean Waves about which she wrote:
The beautiful yarn Kirsty Clarke donated for this block is called “Oceanic” This wavy shell stitch reminded me of the oceans our blocks travel to get to their destination.
The deep waters separate our continents, but also connect us across the world.
And about Woven seeds she wrote: This block is an adaptation of a stitch pattern chronicled by Barbara G. Walker. I chose this particular stitch because the seeded pattern reminds me that each small thing we do can bear fruit beyond our imagination. The love and care we put into our work for Knit a Square may be the seed of self belief in one of the recipients, and knowing that strangers cared enough to create just for them may be the beginning of them caring for others.
Lucy's square - Kathleen's Blanket Square
While you’re having a look at the gallery, you may also like to enter Another Long Yarn’s Knitalong challenge.
Visit for details. The competition ends on Feb 14th and the prize is fantastic. Not to mention that the result will be some wildly creative and stunning squares for the orphans' blankets.
Only 8 sleeps until the Soweto Gospel Choir Performance
Collaboration! I wrote an article in the forum about what a huge achievement this has been. For those of you who did not read it, briefly: KAS has organised to present, on stage, 25 blankets by 25 children to the 25 choristers of the Soweto Gospel Choir when they perform at the Annenburg Theatre, Philadephia on Saturday 30 January in front of an audience of 950!
Debbie Posmonteir, a forum member and one of our early KAS heros, has been quintessential to the whole event happening. She has co-ordinated the blankets, organised 25 children of Springside School to present the blankets on stage and also from the same school the Springside Middle School Choir, Musica Mundi Choir to sing songs from Africa in the foyer. Debbie, Hanna Russo, Jackie Sousa and Sonia Frontera and various family members are all going to be available to hand out rulers and flyers in the foyer as well.
The 25 children will walk on stage and hand the blankets to the choristers before a short presentation about KAS to the audience. We hope to that we will get some press coverage either before or after the show.
But the most important aspect of this whole event is the community collaboration that our wonderful KAS people showed to get this all together. We were only able to give everyone in the forum the go-ahead in early December. Between then and now, Debbie has received 24 beautiful hand made blankets with another 4 on their way. This is no mean feat. It meant not only knitting 980 squares but co-ordinating sending them to those who had volunteered to help with sewing. Many folk went out of their way to help. I mentioned them all by name in the forum blog, so please click through and read about the personal effort so many put in to ensure that we could pull this event off.
Debbie and some of the 25 beautifully knitted and stitched blankets that have arrived. I received word from her today that the 25 blanket had arrived, so we did it with just one week to spare. GO KAS!
This will be a great awareness raising event. We believe the audience will be touched by the children draped in the beautiful blankets and the knowledge that the blankets are destined for children who have been orphaned in a far off country. We hope too that the leaflets they will receive will consolidate our message. Roger has written some heartfelt words for a very short presentation and together with the visual feast of the blankets, the heavenly voices of the Soweto Gospel Choir and the evocative performance of the School Choir in the foyer, KasCare and it's community is bound to have made an impression. Let's hope that the word will spread virally from those in the audience, and many more people will know about our children as a result.
We are all deeply appreciative of such commitment, focus and good intent on behalf of so many wishing to see exposure for the children.
In addition, Jackie Sousa's employer, Brian Roznoy of Morgan Advanced Ceramics Inc has generously agreed to donate $200 toward getting the blankets from the USA to South Africa, for which we are deeply grateful.
We look forward to reporting from first hand experience on this event in the next ezine. The image above is of the banner we have had made for the foyer, where the choir will sing. It will stand near the table which is being manned to hand out the rulers and flyers and accept donations).
Try keeping this ezine short!
I promised both you and I last year that the ezine would be kept shorter! Well, it looks like I am breaking that promise already, although this is a lot shorter than the epic at the end of last year.
As a result, I do hope you will understand that when it comes to profiling your extraordinary work, I will only select from the many hundreds of photographs Ronda sends, either those with a story attached, or of interest, an amazing individual method or work we believe you would love to see. For those of you whose work is not showcased. Please understand that every square continues to be greatly valued. in the end the value is in the fact that you have made and sent it, and it is in a blanket or garment, warming a child.
For those of you who are not yet members of the forum, please can I appeal to you to JOIN. There are so many many benefits of belonging to our KAS community. Patterns, friendship, cross the world community support and help, challenges and news!
The moderators are doing an excellent job sorting through patterns and getting ready to upload under the patterns tab and generally keeping the forum humming.
Plus we have our KASlympics challenge (a race of squares while the Winter Olympics are on) both in the forum and on the ravelry group and February's GO-OVER challenge.
We all look forward to welcoming you.
Your beautiful work
Left: Two boxes of 78 squares and 28 beanies, really beautifully knitted, were hand delivered by Nic Terblanche made by his wife Linda and her mother Mrs Poppie Van Schalkwyk of Roodepoort. Poppie loved knitting the squares and persevered despite her chronic arthritis. Right: And a blanket pack - made another 4 for JKK boys, these squares received from Karen Fontana along with about 50 rain ponchos which I will take to Heloise. It's been POURING with rain here so they will be enormously welcome. (ED: written in December and since then Ronda says Heloise has reported back the ponchos were in great demand.).
Left: Melodie Dobbie sends regular gorgeous squares which makes me want to get sewing immediately (ED NOTE: Melody was one of the very first people to write to us after the Lion Brand article last year. That is nearly a year ago now! I might have this wrong, but I think Melody offered to drive 70 miles (?) to her nearest yarn shop to buy wool if that was what was required. That was before we changed the website to say that acrylic yarn was fine too! This letter suggests she may have made the long trip to buy the wool and soy for these beautiful squares!) Right: Fisher Island School, New York, wrote to say their school had just started an after school knitting club and were half way through knitting their squares, but they sent these 60 super squares as well.
Right: Before Christmas Pete and I opened parcels with nearly 3000 squares in them. Pete looks like Father christmas! Then Lindiwe came over and we bundled and sorted and tried to get as much into the shed. Right: Bundles of 50x squares for Lindi to take back to Soweto (750 in total).
Left: Here's a very warm, bright GO-OVER from Marion Donnenwirth, a new contributor to inspire you all for the February Challenge to make GO-OVERS. See the forum for details and don't forget the February challenge - GO-OVERS for older chidlren. Right: From Lynn Wallace, 380 squares, huge variety and gorgeous velvety ones which is a fabulous individual contribution.
Lovely to have younger contributers too. Marilyn Goodyear and Stepanie Benitez from North Parramatta, Australia and look at their gorgeous work!
Left: I'm sure these very beautifully crocheted squares were part of a very generous donation from you, Annie Jostsens of Bangor, Australia. We hope we have this caption right, but if not please let us know. Right: And a stunning square of one of 26 beautiful squares from Caroline McKie of Melton, Australia.
Isn't this a wonderful hat! I wonder who made it - could you let us know? And is it the same person who did this amazing work?
160 squares received (40 from each of the Hirata daughters Cecilia, Jessica, Delaina and Faith) for 4 blankets to be made. And another two of the daughters, Dawn and Patt, sent 48 large squares with instructions for them to be sewn into 24 square vests! A magnificent effort from 6 sisters!
Two old friends, Diane McTigue and Elaine Jones, both from UK, made these beautiful 'animal/insect/flower' squares. We will enjoy putting them into blanket packs and sewing them up.
Square list and patience
These photographs were taken yesterday (21 January 2010). Firstly isn't this a truly remarkable illustration of what is happening, a deluge of squares and warm garments from all over the world. All of them sent with the powerful sentiment attached that they make a blanket and warm a child.
Ronda says there is still a lot more at the post office to collect and estimates this collection together with what is in the shed at perhaps 10,000 squares.
In the green bags shown, are the first parcels for Oasis, that Ronda has recorded from who and from where, but not how many squares. These will go to them now, and Oasis will then record the number of squares as they open them, until they reach 17,500. You will understand, looking at these photographs why this arrangement is such a great collaboration and a win for everyone. Firstly, because 500 more children will receive blankets, secondly for the community of Cosmos City as they all get involved in sorting, bundling and sewing. Lastly, for KAS and most particularly Ronda and her truly remarkable team, (Lindiwe and Wandile pictured above), who will now be able to get on top of all the chores associated with opening, data recording, acknowledging, sorting, bundling etc as a result of this help from Oasis.
I have had a lot of letters from you, concerned to hear whether your squares have arrived. I hope that the sight of this abundance of parcels will reassure you that post arrives safely and in volumes! While we are ensuring that we put in place plans to get through this backlog, it will take time.
PLEASE be patient, eventually every square that arrives will be catalogued and ongoing lists will be posted to the site.
Today I am only posting the list up to 15/16 December. What you are looking at here are the boxes that have arrived POST that date. Ronda and her team took a well earned break over Christmas and have just started the task of opening and recording. I will receive another Square List at the end of January which I will post in February in the next ezine.
I so hope that you are reassured by this awesome sight, of so much largesse from around the world. Please trust us that we are working hard in many different ways, so that your work gets to do what it is meant to, warm abandoned children and AIDS orphans. And that we remain deeply touched by your commitment to KasCare and the children.
Two sets of twins clutching their teddy bears and other gifts from the Christmas celebration at Hoefflin Centre, Bez Valley, December 2009.
PS. Ronda did send me this just before Christmas, so I will add it here, although it will doubtless be recorded in January's openings. Also arrived (in addition to the list link above: 6 anonymous envelopes from RSA, M P Coetzer, Nelspruit - RSA, 1 anonymous from UK, 1 from S Burman, Norfolk UK, Envelope from L Cary, Palmdale USA, Boxes from: Lynne Emery, Zeeland USA Carol Ann Hengeveld, Palm Harbour Florida USA and Paulette Pronk.
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