This discussion aims to give you an up-close and personal look at what happens on opening days at the Knit-a-Square barn.  I'm a partially-sighted volunteer who who attends with my guide dog Tango and my driver Bongi, who has also become a keen volunteer.  While everyone else opens parcels, sorts squares and packs items ready for distribution, I listen and take mental notes so I can pass on something of the atmosphere on the ground.  Enjoy!

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Looking forward to your recounts and insights again this year, Leanne. Thank you so much for sharing them with us.  :)) 

Leanne, I always enjoy reading your accounts of opening days.  You write beautifully and your words bring to life the activity in the KAbarn.  Thank you for introducing us to volunteers, helping to answer our questions, and bridging the gap between and S.A. and the crafters around the world.

Thank you for sharing your time and your talent with us and the children ... xo

Leanne I am also looking forward to your lively accounts of goings on in SA and getting to know the volunteers through you !

The 2018 year kicked off in the middle of a heatwave in Johannesburg. The heatwave came in the wake of some very severe summer storms. There was even a tornado which resulted in the deaths of two people and the proclamation of the province as a disaster area.
Wandi and several of the volunteers live in the affected area of south-west Soweto. They witnessed the heavy hail and houses without roofs in the aftermath of the tornado, though thankfully none of them suffered losses. Visiting the clinic for the removal of a couple of teeth, Wandi met a woman covered in bruises and asked her what had happened. The woman turned out to be the head of a creche that had suffered extensive damage from the tornado, leaving 40 children with no shelter or physical comfort. In her characteristically caring way, Wandi took down her details and immediately arranged with Ronda to deliver blankets, beanies, hand warmers and toys to the affected children.
I learnt all this in the first ten minutes of arriving back at the Knit-a-Square barn on Tuesday morning. Thomas, our young driver, was helping to photograph blankets and stack bags on the high shelves ready for distribution. About eight volunteers were already busy at the long table, working to make blanket bundles out of leftover randomly-sized squares from last year. People were popping in with packets of squares and hats knitted over the holidays. In fact, everything looked great, not like the start of last year when the barn got flooded and so many of the stacked items had to be hung out to dry or cleaned.
I benched Tango to a chair in front of Ronda's desk, listening to Ronda and Wandi discussing the tornado. Evidently, another creche had also had its roof blown off with a lot of associated damage to property. But as soon as the two creches are up and running again, they will each receive an exciting delivery—bags of gorgeous, uniquely patterned blankets and other knitted items, lovingly created by you, our members.
Ronda has been away for three weeks, and had a wonderful break from the city with family and friends. On Monday, she visited the post office to find a really huge pile of parcels waiting for her. "We had to pay R3000 to collect them," she said, surprising me because I thought there was no charge for collection if the contents weren't insured. "It's a handling fee,"Ronda explained. "Admittedly, we do put quite a large burden on our post office, and there are many manifests to prepare. I suppose it's a way for the post office to make money. Their systems are outdated and time-consuming, but they take care of our parcels and things don't go astray. Still, it's a big cost for a charity to bear."
Ronda reported that she has closed one of the Knit-a-Square bank accounts following some hassles with the account being frozen. . Knit-a-Square originally had only a Nedbank account but had to open a second account at FNB [First national Bank[ because FNB was the only bank that accepted Paypal payments. From now on, the FNB account, the one linked to Paypal, will be the only Knit-a-Square bank account. Ronda asks that anyone who has directly deposited funds into the nedbank account in the past please note that this account has been closed and update their records accordingly.
We are looking forward to a good year with our volunteers feeling motivated and our systems running well. More and more, we are relying on people connected to other organisations to help with the distributions as we simply cannot manage the whole task ourselves. Yesterday, for example, I met a woman named Shirley who was bringing in a stack of blankets she had sewn up and, at the same time, was collecting a bag of hats for an AIDS project she is involved with. Such partnerships work well and achieve the end goal of helping the people who most need it. We will also be partnering again with the Bryanstan Post Office in their community service project and the project run by Anne's bible study group which assists new mothers at a local hospital. These are just some of the projects I'm currently aware of and I'll report on more during the course of the year.
Meanwhile, thank you all for taking an interest in the goings-on at the barn and for continuing to send your wonderful handmade items. May you all have a truly blessed 2018!

Thanks Leanne for the new year update.

Here is a photo of some of the parcels that Ronda picked up from the Post Office.

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Vivienne with her holiday project...a beautiful shawl / blanket she crocheted.

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Thanks so much for the thorough update.  I have missed reading your newsy recount of all the activity in the KAS barn.

Watch out!  I think there are quite of few toys, ready for the picnic, coming your way.

Thank you.

Thank you, Leanne. Another wonderful account of the KAS Barn.

WOW   Leanne, this sounds like a very busy first day back for everyone!  How devastating for the two creches to have such damage inflicted on them by Mother Nature :(  Bless Wandi for her caring heart and for bringing the need to Ronda's attention.

I will have to be sure my RJSK friends take note of the pile of parcels in this photo.  There are several of theirs in that heap :) with one right on top!

Thank you, dear Leanne, for bringing us up to date with this clear reminder of why we knit and crochet.  Also a reminder that our donations ... whether ongoing monthly or one-time donations ... are vital to the operation of Knit-a-Square!  xo

Thank you, Leanne. I hope the two affected creches can get their repairs done and continue to operate for the children's sake.

Another busy year for KAS....I had better get my needles clicking.  :))

Thanks Leanne for sharing your first visit to the KAS barn this year; we learn so much from you, much of which helps to motivate us even more!

Thank you Leanne, a very busy first day back. Vivienne's shawl is beautiful she must have had a busy holiday ! So pleased and Ronda got away for a break. We had a similar summer storm here too one life lost with a tree landing on a car further south. The tornado must have been alarming for the volunteers living there, and I do hope the creches are up and running soon,they are so much needed.



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