In order to give you an idea of what we are getting up to, we are going to try and submit a report weekly so that you too can experience a week in the life of a KAS volunteer in South Africa (SA). We hope you enjoy our stories.
June kicked off with a little more support than usual with Wendy being able to help out a great deal more since she resigned to start up her own business. We wish her all the very best and look forward to her input at KAS.
I am still driving around with a grin from ear to ear in my new KASvan and I am so excited about the challenge to fill it with squares – a target it would seem you will reach sooner rather than later. The visibility of the KASvan and the website paid off last week when we had a visit from a lady called Lynette, representing a church in Norwood in SA. She had been trying to get in touch with me for months to hand over 4 enormous boxes of the brightest and most beautiful squares they knitted. She eventually tracked me down when she read the number printed on the KASvan on one of the photos on Facebook. Isn’t it amazing – thanks for persevering Lynette! We are working on an a South African page on the website with contact details for us in SA so people do not battle to get in touch in future.
We have had 2 opening days this month with the third starting in a short while and we have lots of mail to get through. Some of our regular volunteers are away so we are down to a trusty few at the moment. We love receiving you wonderful contributions and the notes you send us. We have been particularly pleased to be receiving many squares, which as you know, is our biggest need.
A great deal of this month has been taken up with meetings and research on how to improve the way in which KAS operates in South Africa and I am thrilled to report that we have some wonderful plans in the pipeline. We will share these all with you as and when we have progressed them, but knit and crochet away because very soon we will be warming more orphaned and vulnerable children than ever.
On Saturday, 15 June, Wendy, Abegail and Zodwa joined me on a distribution with a difference in an informal settlement called Zenzele just outside an area called Randfontein. Wendy and I headed out in the KASvan with Abegail and Zodwa in convoy for an hour’s journey to our destination. We were thrilled that the GPS took us to the exact spot we needed to be – these places are not well documented. An entire day’s activities had been planned by Debbie and her team from GOMA (Grace Outreach Ministries of Africa). Grace is a massive Pentecostal Church in Africa that works tirelessly amongst poor communities. The children had their faces painted, played on a jumping castle, enjoyed skits put on by the church, danced, sang and generally escaped from the dreary reality of their lives for a few hours. The ladies of the community all crammed into a class room at the church and sang gospel music at the top of their voices while sewing together KAS blankets and enjoying a cup of tea and biscuits. Wendy, Abegail, Zodwa and I decided not to try our talents at rapping with the children and joined the ladies sewing blankets instead.
The ladies helping sew together blankets for children in their community.
At lunch time we enjoyed some hearty soup which was well received because there was an icy wind blowing.
Later in the afternoon we distributed 100 blankets and beanies to the children. Pastor Thomas called up each of the families and gave them food parcels arranged by GOMA and I got to do what I love more than anything, wrap children in your love with warm blankets.
The children warmly wrapped up in their colourful blankets.
It was a tiring day, and the bitter wind resulted in dry and very chapped lips, but our hearts were warm.
Sunday and Monday were public holidays in South Africa. Youth Day was celebrated across the country on Sunday and was an opportunity to reflect all that this amazing country has been through over the years. As I am sure you are aware, Nelson Mandela – “Madiba” – has been very ill of late and is hospitalised in Pretoria with a lung infection. He appears to be responding to treatment, and he is in our prayers. Many KAS contributors have enquired about how people in SA are feeling about Madiba being so ill. Well, everyone is sad, he is “The Father of the Nation”, but we also realise that his life is in the hands of God, and should he be needed elsewhere now we will be distraught as a nation, but we need to let go too.
On Tuesday, 18 June we headed off to an area called Diepsloot which is a massive informal settlement north of Johannesburg. This too was a distribution with a difference. G4S wanted to donate some sporting equipment to the Vuselela Drop-In Centre. Sr Sato and Sr Eunice have been managing this centre for a number of years now and treat people in the community who have been affected by or infected with HIV AIDS. On any average afternoon, they can have as many as 400 children at the centre and the table tennis table, volley ball nets and cricket sets were well received. Staff from G4S challenged Sr Sato to a table tennis match and she never turns down a challenge. There was a great deal of fun and laugher. KAS was also able to give Sr Sato bags of bundled blanket packs, wool and needles, for the women and men who visit the centre to sew together. It is extremely important for them to have something constructive to do.
Sr Sato and Sr Eunice with visitors to the centre who will sew together blankets from KAS.
Otherwise I have completed the May books for KAS and we are slowly attending to the pile of thank you letters. We have made up 270 blanket packs so far this month and have packed boxes to send to projects we support in Ladysmith and Cape Town as well as an orphanage in Durban.
Well, we must tackle the mountain of mail that is here and John from Hotel Hope has just arrived with a truck load more mail, so best we get going. We will chat again next week.
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Fabulous report Ronda, we appreciate the time you take out of your busy schedule in order for us to 'be with you' - in spirit at least. So good to see the ladies sewing the blankets that will be shared with their own community! Look forward to future editions of reports from South Africa.
Love working with you Ronda!
This weekly report is a great idea to bring KAS South Africa closer to all the Forum member. Thanks Ronda :)
Oh Ronda, THANK YOU for taking the time to send us this news. Hearing the details of the two distributions just made me feel so close to what is happening on your end - I am sure I will crochet at double speed today!
We all know how busy you are, but we will all look forward to more news - this is simply the best thing to hit the forum in months - totally inspiring, totally heart-warming.
Ronda - this news is so encouraging to those of us who love KAS and cannot be there to help in person! Your shared photos and stories just make me want to get clicking with my needles, and it makes me feel so much closer to what is happening in South Africa. It's wonderful to know that our work is so closely tied to the people who receive it. Thank you for all you do!
What a superb read for me when I thought my back wouldn't let me do much useful today. Now I feel very inspired to crochet or knit for KAS. But I must go Tweet this and share it on Facebook first! Thank you so much Ronda for giving us such an overview of what's going on. It is mind boggling to think that a desire to wrap children in warmth is expanding so much and G4S supplying sporting equipment, how grand is that? I've often thought wistfully of sending balls over there for the children to play with but they are too heavy, so I'm very heartened to hear of the mad ping pong challenge that went on, and the volleyball equipment. I know that the cricket sets will be well received and a lot of people can play that at once. Personally I've never been able to figure the game out...I know, I'm a shame to my British ancestors, lol. Great photos and I totally love that we can give blanket packs out for others to help us in warming the children. Thanks again for sharing all this! Love and hugs!!!
A big thank you Ronda for taking the time to write this. It would seem you have had a very busy but well spent month. It is so good to read this from so far away, it just brings you all a bit closer to us, Thank you :)
This was just wonderful to read Ronda....I know it must be hard for you to take the time to type this all out for us, but it is SO inspirational! It helps us feel even closer to you and everyone who is working for KAS in South Africa! I especially loved hearing about your day in the Zenzele settlement! I could just "hear" the gospel songs and I can imagine the feeling of being filled with God's purpose and love! Bless you all for what you do! My love and prayers go out to you all! XOXO
Thank you so much for providing us with such detail as to whats been happening....it is soooo appeciated, I just hope you are not 'burning the candle at both ends'. You always seem to be doing so much, I hope you are able to make lots of time for you,too. xx
Hello dear Mary Anne ... yes, it really is humbling to be amongst people who seemingly have so little, but are always so gracious and welcoming - and so keen to help other members of their communities. I believe every one of our contributors would be deeply touched by the experience and you are all very much in our minds as we take your beautiful work, and your love, and pass it along ... what a privilege it is, and yes, God's presence is tangible amongst people of such reverence. Blessings to you xxxx
I love hearing these updates, it makes everything so much more real and immediate! I always feel that little bit more connected when I hear about specific distributions and all the wonderful things happening in South Africa!
Ronda, reading this is a wonderful KAS gift! Knowing the specifics of what the team is doing from week to week is so wonderfully motivating. Thank you for thinking of us and taking the time for this feature. It is a gem.