It was wonderful to hear from all of you last week after posting my first report for June and I am pleased that you all enjoyed hearing what we get up to in South Africa.
Last Thursday, John delivered a mountain of post and although we had four volunteers helping to unpack, we were left with many unopened parcels and decided to have two opening days this week to try and catch up. We are determined to open all the mail in the same week we receive it. So, we opened mail yesterday and let’s hope that today we are able to get through what is still left and what was delivered today.
This week I wanted to share with you the stories of some very courageous children.
On Monday, Wendy, Abegail, Erin, Sarah (Wendy’s daughter) and I went to visit Hotel Hope. It is always such a treat to visit Oliver and his team who were very grateful for the nappies, baby blankets and clothes you have contributed. The toddlers were all at play school which meant we got to spend time with the babies. They currently have 18 children at Hotel Hope and two of the toddlers will be joining their new adoptive parents in the first week of July. Oliver is amazing with the children and you can see how much they all mean to him. The children adore him too and he is blessed with hugs and kisses from them all the time. It must be heart-breaking for him when they leave, but as he says, it is what he prays for – a family for each child.
It was at Hotel Hope that we were told the first story I want to share with you. Bundled in a pretty pink blanket, fast asleep in a cot in the corner of the nursery was a precious one week old baby girl. This baby girl’s mother is a child herself, a very brave 13 year old girl who was raped by her uncle at her own mother’s funeral, but who was brave enough to give birth to this beautiful baby girl and offer her a happy life through adoption. How brave is she, having to make such responsible choices at a tender age? Thank you Hotel Hope, you have given both these children hope for the future. A big thank you needs to go to Ruth for her wise and gentle counselling to so many of our school girls who find themselves in trouble.
On Tuesday, Seble (a volunteer from Ethiopia), Wendy and I met up with Tuki, an old friend of KAS, and we went to the Thinavhuyo Day Care Centre in Thembelihle in Lenasia. Seble travelled up front with me and Wendy travelled in the back of the truck – she looked rather comfortable don’t you think?
Thinavhuyo is a large Day Care Centre caring for 140 children. When we arrived at the Centre, we were greeted by the children singing the South African national anthem and other songs they had been taught. Last year we distributed to the first 70 children at Thinavhuyo (babies and toddlers) and on Tuesday it was a celebration of your love and ours for the 70+ pre-schoolers. Each of these children received a warm top and beanie as well as a pair of socks and a toy. There is always great excitement when we hand out the toys and this photo shows the children holding their gifts.
Thanks to those of you have contributed via the online shop, we were also able to leave apples, bread, jam, pasta and soup mixes for the children to have for lunch.
After the distribution, we spent some time in one of the classrooms watching the children drawing and learning to read. It is wonderful to see how eager they are to learn and how dedicated their teachers are despite the limited resources they have. The picture books and stationery that you send us come in so handy.
While we were there, Tuki pointed out the children who are being raised by their siblings who are only in their teens, some of them as young as14 years old. This situation is described as a “child-headed family” and is a common occurrence in South Africa, another example of a group of very courageous children. How many young teenagers do you know who could raise a family of two or three young children? We made sure that we sent larger jerseys, beanies and extra food home for these children too.
Otherwise this week we also packaged two large boxes that will go to “The Baby House” in Durban and have been in touch with a number of people regarding upcoming distributions. Michelle of “The Lonely Road” project just collected 50 blankets, 200 beanies and a supply of blanket packs to be stitched up. Lindi and Wandi will take more blanket packs back to Soweto today to be sewn together by the gogos at Chiawelo.
And to end this week, a few photos of the children at Thinavhuyo.
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Ronda - thank you for another wonderful report! You are absolutely bringing "distribution days" alive for all of us who are so far away.
My heart was breaking as I read about the 13 year old rape victim, and about the teens who are raising younger siblings. I think of my own five grandchildren and can't imagine them having to go through something like that. I am so glad that you had some larger jerseys and extra food. to send home to the "child parents".
How wonderful to hear that contributions to the online shop are making it possible to take some edibles for the children to enjoy.
I can't help thinking that each time you visit, you are leaving these children with a memory that will never fade. When they grow up, I imagine they will still remember "the day the ladies came".
God bless you and your team - and thank you for making us all a part of it by sharing the news.
Well said Anne, I agree 100% and I thought those two sweaters of yours looked familiar! I love this newsletter, I was alerted to it when Jana Benitez, another KASer shared it on FaceBook and I promptly shared it on and tweeted it. I'm thrilled how often Knit a Square comes up in the search engines now, keep mentioning African AIDS orphans and hopefully we can get the word out even more.
Ronda this report is stellar, I love it! It told me so much and got my heartstrings yearning even more to help the kids. Thank you! And you just reminded me to go to the Square Shop again, as my pension just came in. :) Love and hugs to everyone over there...you're SO busy helping the kids and we love you for it!
Wendy if we could reach you, you'd all be hugged breathless...you're our hearts and hands on the ground over there. I see the mountains of mail you kids open and I'm truly impressed with your dedication, determination and grit in getting through it all. Way to go!
Oh my goodness - I just came back for another look at the photos, and I see two of my hexagon sweaters - second from the left, and far right in the bottom strip. What a thrill - thank you Ronda!
Hello dear Anne ... I am so touched at the warm reception these reports are receiving ! And very happy that you spied your sweaters too - hopefully many of our amazing contributors will be given the same pleasure ?! Thank you ALL, for your warmth and generosity - it's wonderful !!!
We really appreciate this up-to-the-minute news - it helps us on the 'outside' feel our contribution is truly valuable. We will NOT send apologies for the postal pile up!
Glad to see Wendy having a rest - her quiet background contributions are enhancing and strengthening what Sandy and all the McDonald family have started!
Ronda, thank you so much for taking your precious time to send us this news when you are so busy already. As others have said, it helps us feel closer to you. These stories are heart-breaking but I am so grateful for you and the others wonderful people in SA who bring comfort to these children. Bless you all!
Thank YOU Laurie ... and yes, there are so many tragic stories to tell and so many children in this country having to grow up MUCH too early. That's why it is an incredible blessing for us to have the privilege of distributing the beautiful items you all send ... in reality Y'ALL are the heroines !!
I continue to be amazed at how the knitters and crocheters from around the world have responded to your call for 8" squares! I love that one person in one family had one idea that has touched so many lives. The square makers are blessed to be able to help children keep warm in a land far away from their own, the people who sew the squares together, the people who open the packages, who separate them into blankets packs, who deliver them to children in need along with a hug and an apple! The children are blessed to know that so many people in the world truly DO care about them and are doing what they can to help provide for them in their own ways. We may not be able to provide for every child in every way, but KAS certainly makes a step in the right direction! KAS is a blessing to so very many, and for this we are all thankful to you Ronda. Bless your very large heart!
It is a marvellous thing, Susan, indeed - that a seed planted by one can grow into an enormous, beautiful tree of love, touching thousands !!
Oh My Goodness! In the bottom Compilation of pictues, the 4th one from the left, my Brown Sheep Vest (Made from the donated Dragon Fired and my China Wool). LOVE IT!!!!