Square Circle Forum

Dear KASers...

I really do need to begin this post with a huge apology for the lack of comms over the past weeks.  As most of you know, Sandy and family arrived in SA on 19 March for a holiday/KAS on the ground investigation/family reunion etc.  From a family point of view, it was indescribably wonderful to have them here - we are a very close family, for which I am so grateful, but so terribly fractured by the geographical distances between us all on a day to day basis...  We had a very busy but wonderful time in the weeks that the McDonalds and Zanny (Sandy's mum) were here and we managed to achieve a lot as far as KAS is concerned.  Sandy kept a wonderful blog (www.allfororphans.com for those of you who have not yet seen it) of their time here too - very special and a great read for all involved in KAS.

On a personal note, for those of you who have been onto www.allfororphans.com, you may have read that we lost, very suddenly and unexpectedly, a very special family member just after our wonderful family reunion in Port Elizabeth (which was incredibly special and auspicious to begin with, but is even more so now in light of this terrible loss).  Our Pete Lovemore, father to 4 daughters and a son, grandfather to two grandchildren and another on the way, brother to Charmian Huggins, Zanny Blew (Sandy's mum) and Ronda Lowrie (my mum), uncle to 4 nieces and a nephew (on our side of the family), great uncle to 7 great neices and 2 great nephews and friend to so, so many, passed away very suddenly in the early hours of the morning on 26 April 2010.  The entire family is still, two weeks later, reeling.  Apart from a long, long list of wonderful attributes, Pete was a philanthropist in so many ways and we will take inspiration from that for our continuing work with KAS...

Now that life is returning to some form of normalcy, I will be updating you all on what's happening 'on the ground' much more regularly again.  Thank you for your understanding for the lack of information being provided over the past few weeks under the circumstances.

With love,

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Replies to This Discussion

Thanks Dawne. We are all overwhelmed by everyone's condolences, thoughts and prayers for the family. You are very special people and we are very privileged to be part of this wonderful community.
That photograph of those babies really is worth a thousand words and deeply haunting. It was haunting on the day and it was warm then, painful to imagine them now as it is getting cold, although those little ones now have beautiful blankets to wrap around them. And that is exactly what is so amazing about what you are doing.

With regard to the KasCuddle being used as a sort of sleeping bag, I hope Helen and Anne will contribute here as we had already had a discussion about this for the July Challenge. Both, I believe, are of the opinion that the KasCuddle is eminently well suited for smaller babies (perhaps up to 3 months, but not newborns) and that we would be able to therefore distribute perhaps 2 or 3 per creche for these babies. But for the older children they become unwieldy and not suitable. I would prefer Anne or Helen to elaborate on this further.

With regard to a sleeping mat of sleeping bag idea, I am just a bit concerned and perhaps Erin you can confirm this, that from a resources point of view just at this time, giving these children one of our normal blankets would probably be the easiest as they can be folded underneath them and wrapped over them as well.

However, we do receive some squares which are super, super thick. Paulette (Pronk) knits very thick blankets which perhaps she would be able to detail here as to how she does it. They weigh a lot and so it would be of concern from a post point of view, but squares knitted like this could be joined into sleeping mats.

This is a valuable discussion though, especially as we are developing a funding program around the creches, because later on, when we are better resourced, it may be that we can be much more specific in what we supply practically to keep the children warm.

Thank you all for your ongoing and wonderful sympathy for the loss of our Uncle Peter. I feel certain that he will have a wry grin on his face as he contemplates the attention he is being given in a predominantly womens' forum. He LOVED women and they loved him, although I hasten to add he was not a philanderer, just a man who recognised how incredible the female species was!
I've had a thought and want to toss it out there for some collaborative brainstorming.

On KASOTG Day I was given 3 skeins of very warm dark green wool. This wool is not horribly scratchy but it's not soft either by my standards. I toyed with the notion of knitting this wool into a sleeping mat with the thought of creating a removal 'pillowcase' out of soft flannel to cover the wool. The child would have the benefit of the warmth and thickness of wool with the softness of flannel.

And then I thought about weight and postage costs and heaved a sigh of sadness. Even if I could make and send 1 or 2 what good would that do? There are many children in a creche and they all need warmth. And then I thought perhaps the youngest or the more sickly children could use a sleeping mat. And then I realized making that choice, of who would get a sleep mat, just sucks all around and I wouldn't want to be the caregiver that had to make it.

Then I read this discussion about using surplus baby blankets - the smaller blankets made of 12 squares and I feel a bit more optimistic.

What if KAS members who enjoy sewing made pillowcases for the blankets? They would cost way less to post and aren't hard to make at all. We can ask the folks in S. Africa to find some baby blankets and slip them inside the pillow cases and voila - sleeping mat! The soft flannel pillowcase is a lot easier to wash and it will keep our lovely blankets from being directly on the floor.

If ever a blanket is preferred to a sleep mat all one has to do is remove the pillow case. If each child in the creche is given a proper blanket to own the sleep mats (smaller blankets with pillowcases) can remain property of the creche. Like when my son went to daycare they had 30 sleeping cots that never went home with the kids that they used year after year.

Another 'on the ground' idea is to request carpet ends from carpet stores. Here in North America kids often sit on a carpet remnant during story time.

If Ronda & crew like this idea all we need are dimensions. It might be good to have flannel on the top and sturdier fabric on the bottom. Even so, they would be easy to make following a basic pillow case pattern. Flannel is usually about $2 - $5 a meter where I live with lots of sales. Much cheaper for me than yarn so not a huge hardship for our members. Anyone who doesn't like sewing doesn't have to join in, of course.

We could really have fun choosing fabric themes/motifs. I used to make a lot of I Spy quilts for kids and have wished to send them to SA but proper quilts weigh a lot. A colourful pillowcase shouldn't cost that much to send.

That sounds like a super idea to me, Dawne....much easier to wash the pillow case then the whole crocheted or knitted blankets.....would save the life of the blanket too...The gals in church had a project a while back...they were making the cutest little dresses out of boughten pillow cases....some how they had a pattern that made into a little dress....you know as far as that goes, there are always tons of pillow cases in the thrift store etc...thats what these ladies did...gathered up all the cute pillow cases....so those that don;t sew....could just pick them up at thrift stores or garage sales which are in full swing now....g
Hi Sandy...my blocks are made useing 2 strands yarn and crocheted with a half dubble crochet...the pillowcase mat can be made by placing old wool blankets...batting...layers of flannel tog....inside the pillowcase and machine stitched or large hand sewing running stitch all around the pillowcase edge threw all layers and it is nice...did some for a daycare. sizes vary for child use...King size pillowcases work well and any cloth on sale can be cut to size for a child...old blankets are nice made to size with batting layered inside. To keep all 4 sides down and layers tog. you can also tie yarn all around the edges.... Fleece is GREAT.
I have been thinking about creches too and I notice that Sandy suggested that if their blankets are big enough the babies can lie on one half and wrap the other half around them. From a hygiene point of view it seems better if they can use their own blanket. Or indeed a blanket mat in a pillowcase I wonder do the kiddies take their blankets home each day and then bring them to creche each day? Otherwise the creches are gong to need spares..!! I had wondered if July could be toddler monthe this year from ages 4 months to 3 years. It seems to me that once they are past baby stage we don't have a special time for the under 3's Especially now that there is a surplus of baby items..Then we can really focus on the needs of the creches. Or am I wrong about this.
I wonder if we would be able to get away with sending 4 by 6 blankets - perhaps this wold replace the 'keen a newborn warm' challenge. What about shifting it to 'Keep a toddler warm'? Sandy, does this sound do-able?
So true Sands, Pete would definitely be chuffed with all the attention he is being given by all these wonderful (predominantly) ladies!

As far as the sleeping mats debate goes, while I think the idea is wonderful, I am inclined to agree with Sandy in that providing these little ones with one of our blankets may be more sustainable in the long run as it would be sort of 'multifunctional'. The blankets we have given them are all quite large and would definitely be able to be wrapped around a little person so that there was a bit of insulation underneath them as well as over them when they lie down to nap. Perhaps another idea is to join the really thick (Paulette-type) squares or even felted squares into a large blanket/mat on which a few of the children could then sleep together, covered by their KAS blankets. Sleeping closer to one another would also generate a bit of body heat and would thus keep them that much warmer.

In the long run, once our funding programme around the creches is up and running, we would really like to buy proper, insulated sleeping mats and or sort out proper flooring perhaps. How wonderful would it be to be able to vastly improve the conditions that these little ones are having to deal with - not to mention the weight taht it would take off the shoulders of their caregivers.

This is a very important and relevant discussion topic - we would love to hear more possible ideas and also would value your input on what you think we may be able to do on this side.

As Sandy said, thank you all so very much for your messages of support and condolence. The whole family are so grateful to every one of you and hold all your thoughts and prayers very dear.

I think toddler month is a good idea for the July Challenge or even June Challenge as we need to get this stuff to the children as soon as possible.

Here is a reality which might make all your suggestions, especially with regard to the pillowcase, flannel, blanket case sleeping mat ideas (and I agree Dawne having to make a decision for a carer as to which child gets anything would be awful) feasible. Phew, that was a long sentence.

We are unlikely, until we have our all important operations function on the ground (manager, part-time person what ever we get to afford), to get to more than say 20 creches during this winter. I have pulled that figure right out of my hat, but it is based on a lose estimate of blankets, squares, networking, delivery options we can resource at present. Let's say 20 for this discussion. (Erry, could you weigh in here with your estimate? - Wandile says she knows of 30 she could get to right away). Each of those creches appears to have about 3-5 toddlers. And about 1-3 babies. The rest of the children are small - up to 6, but get blankets. So that would mean between 60 and 100 blanket covers/mats of some description and about 20 - 60 KasCuddles. This seems doable to me.

What we would not want is for the cost to escalate for you, especially in postage, or for us to get too many to be able to distribute effectively in the short term.

In answer to the question about whether the blankets stay or go - well at Itumaleng Creche, Mavis said she would keep the blankets while the children were at the creche and they would go home with them when they left. She was adamant that each child would know which was their blanket. I think each creche would be different. They are run by individuals and not governed by any official body that I know of .
Hmmm.. What about Juniors in June? It would be great if we could give each child a beanie or a vest as well as a blankie. What if we aimed for

- 50 KAS cuddles or baby blankets
- 50 baby beanies (do we need this or is there enough of a backlog?)
- 80 small child blankets (4 by 6 squares) in a pillow case or sleeping mat
- 80 small child beanies

I look at these numbers and I think they are too big, but then I think of the times we've overshot out goals before. The Gospel Choir blankets, last year's Keep a Newborn Warm, April Challenge, Feb/ March big kids - we did it all of those times. If the 4 by 6 square blankets can be stitched up by us then they could be disrtibuted as soon as the SA people have time/availability.

Did the Choir blankets make it through without duty? I wonder if toddler blankets are pushing the duty too much? What if we all add in a bit extra to the KAS pay pal (of course only if people can spare it) to cover and extra duty costs?
I have 35 beanies ready to send, of which 11 are adult size, and 24 child size...

Ok, so I just did some maths. I have worked the following numbers out as 'square equivalents'.
Small blanket = 24
baby blanket or cuddle = 12
go over = 16
beanie = 2
slip over = 6

POSSIBLE GOAL: 80 small child blankets, 50 KAS cuddles, 80 child beanies = 2700 square equivalent approx

2009 April challenge total = 1100 approx square equivalent.

2009 Feb and March challenge total = 2600 square equivalent.

I've only counted stuff list in the monthly challenge tallies (not the general tally). Now that I've crunched the numbers, I do think that we can do this over two months. Of course, the sooner we can get these done and in the post the better - I hate to think of cold, frightned children in the middle of winter if their blanket is still in the post!

What do other people think about these goals? Do my numbers, ball park figures and assumptions work? If anyone wants to see my working out let me know and I'll send it to you.



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KAS supplied blankets, hats, handwarmers and toys to over 5,500 children in 2017.  If Ronda’s wishes come true, in 2018 even more children will receive the gift of warmth and love from around the world.




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