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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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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