Slum Doctor Programme

Cast on for Kenya
March 14, 2007, 10:01 am
Filed under: Uncategorized


This project is no longer in operation. Thank you so much to all of the kind people who made blankets for this project. If you still want to support Slum Doctor Programme by crocheting and knitting items- we would love if people sold their goods and donated a portion to the organization. Thanks again for your participation and interest in Cast on for Kenya!

AmeriCorps volunteers are required to develop a new service project to benefit their community and sponsoring organization during their tour of service. This is called a Community Action Project (CAP). For my CAP I have been working with another AmeriCorps volunteer named Lara Fountain who works in the Nooksack school district to appeal to local fiber artists to make blankets to give to children with HIV at The Hope Clinic in Nairobi, Kenya. We are asking that the blankets be made of natural fibers or high-quality acrylic so that they will be easy to keep clean and that they are a size suitable for children from the age of 0-8. Blankets can be knitted, crocheted or woven. The blankets will serve two functions. The nights in Kenya can be chilly and blankets are a necessity for children with HIV who are susceptible to fevers and often underweight. The blankets will also serve the decidedly more personal function as a comforting possession. With more than 50% of people living on less than a dollar a day in Kenya, possessions are few and far between. The blankets will be particularly special because they will be made with their future owner in mind.

We are accepting blankets from anywhere but our main focus is to encourage a dialogue about global HIV/AIDS in the Bellingham community. Many of the people that I have met with who are from Africa or who have done AIDS relief work in Africa have sited getting a conversation going about the AIDS crisis there as one of the ways that individuals can foster awareness. Putting the global HIV/AIDS crisis on the radar in our community is the first step towards working on this issue together. The knitting circle, like the sewing circle has a long history as a place for conversation. In my experience, women (and the occasional man) talk about everything at a knitting circle and the conversation invariably turns to politics.

Knitting for me is a very meditative act and when I am knitting alone I am able to think very clearly in an unguided, stream of consciousness way. It is impossible for me to knit something for someone else without thinking about who I’m knitting for. I am working on a wavy wool baby blanket right now. I choose a sage green, a dusty pink and a multi layered dark blue. As I work on my blanket I am consistently sent to Kenya, to a hospital room, to a home in Nairobi. I think about the child that will have my blanket. I think about the child’s life and family and community. I think about the child’s temperament and appetite. In this way I am able to imagine the life of an HIV positive person in a whole new way. I have gotten used to hearing and repeating statistics and telling stories that I read or heard from others about individuals with HIV around the world. The Afghans for Africa project holds a surprise function in that it not only encourages dialogue but also introspection on AIDS in Africa.

We are asking that individuals contact us to let us know if they are working on a blanket for Afghans for Africa. This is because we will not be sending but bringing the blankets with us to Kenya. I am vaguely aware that individuals who have gone to do service work in Kenya were able to get their baggage weight limit waved. We will need to bring other donated goods with us as well. In short; we will need to be able to predict how many blankets we will have. So please email me at if you are working on a blanket for us. Making something for others can be fun but making something for someone who may truly need it is a very unique experience. It is an experience that I am thankful to have had.



17 Comments so far
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I think this is such a great cause that I spread the word to the online knitting community by contacting popular knitting bloggers and podcasters. I’ve already heard from three podcasters who are going to announce the blanket project on their shows. It’s exciting to have found a way not only to make a practical contribution to some of those suffering from HIV/AIDS, but also to show that we care.

Comment by Sandi

What an awesome idea! I was an Americorps volunteer many summers ago, and I think this is such a fantastic service project. I also have a friend who does much work with AIDS/HIV awareness in African communities, so I’m happy to see something like this get going.

Comment by BrownBerry

hello there. i’m knitting up a blanket as we speak, but i don’t know exactly where to send it. can you please e-mail me with an exact address? thanks.

Comment by robyn

I just heard about your blanket project just now on Brenda Dayne’s podcast for knitters, Cast-On. I will be glad to weave a blanket for the project; and will need to know where to send it when it is done.

Thank you for letting the world know about this project!

Redwood City, CA

Comment by RuTemple

I’d like to make a blanket for the effort. When do you need to receive them by?

Comment by Tricia

A lot of people have been wanting more details about the Afghans for Africa project. We would like blankets to get to us by June 15th so that we can display them at an event to celebrate those who made us blankets. For those of you who need to send them to us, our address is Slum Doctor Programme, PO Box 2156, Bellingham WA. 98227. Please let me know if you have any more questions. Knitters Unite Against Injustice!

Comment by Marissa

Marissa??? The Marissa who used to knit in DeKalb? We’ve got a charity knitting thing going on here now, so I’m on it. Blankets from corn country coming right up 😉

Comment by Andrea

I heard about your project on Cast-On and I will be sending you a blanket. This is such a great cause and I hope you are getting lots of participation from the knitting community.

Comment by Kathy

Oh my goodness! My old knitting circle has found me! I’m SO excited that we will be getting blankets from DeKalb. I have been overwhelmed by the support that this project has received from the knittng community. I was expecting about 30 blankets a week ago and now I think it is closer to 50. So many Kenyan babies are going to be cozy-warm this year! Look for pictures of our yarn ball next month!

Comment by Marissa

Hi. I am sending a blanket your way. It is coming from Beijing, so it may take two weeks to arrive.

Comment by Rebecca

Thanks for letting me know! That is amazing!

Comment by Marissa

Will you be sending another batch of blankets later? I only just heard about it and am not sure if I can meet the June 15 deadline. I would love to do this and get some friends involved, too. We also had a question as to how the blankets would be washed at the clinic in Kenya, i.e. by hand? by machine? This will help us choose our yarns. Also, I live in Whatcom County and can hand deliver a blanket if that gives me a later due date. This is a wonderful project. Thank you for doing this!

Comment by Terri

We can take a limited number of blankets after the 15th. If you were thinking like sending them in the Fall. We can take those and try to get them out with other volunteers that will be going eventually later this year. However, I will need to know exactly how many you’re sending. You can email me at with the number of blankets you want to send so I can plan ahead for their trip to Africa. Thanks so much for your interest!

Comment by Marissa

Oh! And, I am just suggesting that people err on the side of caution and assume that the blankets will be machine washed. They will be given to the families of the child and most children are in out patient care. Therefore the families will be washing them. It is safe to assume that most will be hand washed but the traditional way of hand washing in Kenya includes hot water and banging garments out on rocks at the river bed. Therefore, I suggest a hearty yarn that can take the abuse but still be cuddled.

Comment by Marissa


Great book. I just want to say what a fantastic thing you are doing! Good luck!


Comment by tovorinok

I missed your summer 2007 deadline. Are you sending another parcel of blankets and if so when?

Comment by Sue


We have no plans to send blankets in the immediate future. We are considering selling the blankets locally and using the funds generated to support more necessary programs abroad. What do you think?

Comment by jessepapineau

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