Having spent the evening in Newcastle, Wendy and I headed off bright and early to the city of Ladysmith.  Ladysmith is in the Uthukela District of KwaZulu-Natal, and is 365 kilometres south of Johannesburg. Important industries in the area include food processing, textile and tyre production.

There were road works for a long stretch of our journey which slowed us down considerably, but we eventually arrived safely and met up with Matthew and Gina and a long-time friend of Knit-A-Square, Joy Coetzee.  Over a cup of tea we caught up with all that Joy is doing for the babies in and around the Ladysmith area and then boosted her efforts with bags full of your contributions. 

Joy Coetzee is a retired nurse who gives special attention to premature and full-term babies born in the Ladysmith Hospital, alongside several other facets to her charity, the Ruth Mailbag Group, with which many of our own contributors have become familiar over the years.

 From left to right:  Me, Joy, Gina and Wendy in the first photo and me, Joy, Gina and Matthew behind Joy’s very full car!


After visiting Joy and packing her car to the brim, we headed to Morester Ladysmith.  This facility was established in 1981 and makes use of the cottage system, where the children live in 10 separate housing units some of which include:

Bouncing Babies

Toddler World

Developing Potential for primary school children

Young Adults for secondary school children

Special Potential for children with special educational needs


There are 128 children accommodated at Morester Ladysmith.


We arrived at the facility which was a hive of excited activity and the older children helped carry in the blanket packs we had put together for each child. 


Lots of eager helpers!

Each pack contained a blanket, a top, a beanie and either socks or hand warmers.  This was a wonderful opportunity to hand out some of our larger sized items.  Because of the large number of children and the higher day-time temperatures, the bundled gifts were the perfect way in which to distribute your generous, loving contributions.  This area of South Africa can be bitterly cold on winter evenings, with frequent snow falls on the nearby mountains.

Bags and bags of blanket packs – both Matthew’s car and the KAS Van were full!

Wendy spoke to the children and shared with them the KAS message of love and hope sent from around the world.

 The children listening attentively…

We then handed the blanket packs out to the children and there were smiles all around as we spent time talking and playing with them.


After the fun and games the children took their blanket packs back to their rooms to open.  I just love some of the photos of them walking with the colourful bundles.



With a long trip back to Johannesburg ahead of us, we prepared to head off, but Wendy was missing.  She had found the Bouncing Babies cottage – how adorable are these little ones!


We will definitely look at doing more road trips in the future and put some mileage on the KAS Van.  It is always good to distribute in new areas and to spread the KAS message which is always so enthusiastically received!


Feedback on the postal strike:


Sadly, the strike appears to be far from over and although I now visit the Post Office almost daily, they are more often than not closed for business or have simply not received any mail at all from the central sorting house. 


We have not received any KAS mail at all for three weeks now, so have been forced to cancel our Opening Days until further notice.  However, we ARE using the extra time to sort the office out, catch up on admin and, most importantly, to pursue some exciting local initiatives which we will share with you as soon as we can. 


In closing, I hope you all liked the KAS Cuddle Bug which “hatched” on The Forum recently – we just love it and cannot wait for our first batch to arrive.  Thanks so much to the Knit for Life ladies who designed it!

  The KAS Cuddle Bug!


Also, please visit the KAS Shop which is now represented by a lovely new logo designed by Anne Powell’s granddaughter Amelia Murray – what a wonderful gift – thanks Amelia!  We have added some new items to the shop which, I’m sure you will agree, will make a big difference in the lives of the children!

  How inviting is our little shop now?


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  • A joy to read, thank you all.


  • Thanks for as great update. Lovely article and pictures. How happy the children look cuddling their bundles:) Shame about the postal strike. I have several items already and no doubt a lot of fellow knitters have. Lets hope it is soon over.

    • I saw a picture on facebook of the mounds of parcels in the Johannesburg central sorting office... I have several blankets worth I'm holding back. I was wondering if KAS would get the GoGos to knit as well as sew up blankets. I am happy to send extra donations to get wool bought locally? 

      • Yes, I too saw an alarming photo of the backlog and this message, is this true????

        SA Post Office on the brink of financial collapse

        South African post office announced yesterday that they were on the brink of financial collapse, at more than 5 Billion in debt. and if the government did not bail them out in the next week, then they would have to shut their doors. The financial situation of the post office is dire. It is seriously dire,” Sapo general manager public affairs Andrew Nongogo told Parliament's communications and public enterprises select committee. 
        And for all you guys waiting for parcels and mail...that's what the Johannesburg International Mail Centre looks like.

        The thought that some of those mounds of parcels could be for the children is heartbreaking. :(  I am saying prayers that is for sure. 

        • It will have to be sorted soon, very few countries and businesses within those countries can survive without a major postal service. Hopefully common sense will prevail, and, the government will step-in to get the service functioning again.

  • Thanks to you all for your interest and enthusiasm.  As Wendy says, let's hope the postal strike will be resolved peacefully and sooner rather than later, because this one seems more serious than ever before where they allowed a FEW parcels to trickle in ! We are beginning to forget what our lovely volunteers look like !! Hugs to you all xoxoxoxoxo

    • Hugs right back Ronda, we're so grateful for all you ladies and gentlemen in South Africa who are allowing us/helping us to help the children.  It's such a relief to be able to do something concrete for them, so wonderful to see them swathed in blankets and hats and sometimes with a toy, to be able to make a difference one child at a time.  It's also wonderful to see how many good kind and caring people there are in the world who are helping by sending squares.  The whole KAS organization is a wonder to me and probaby the best Christmas all-year present I could have.  (and just think how many way too brightly colored pairs of slippers or hats you have saved my children from!) Yes, I've said a few prayers about the postal strike.  I'm sure it won't hurt!

      Love and hugs to everyone,

      Jeanne xoxoxoxo

  • Clear and thankful report Ronda. The bundles look so fabulous and don't we all like a bit of ribbon enclosing a surprise. :)

  • Amelia did a super job on the picture of the KAS shop.  It's adorable!  I love it!

    The Cuddlebug...I have his pattern printed off and I am going to make some segments in fun fur yarns/fancy yarns/eyelash yarns and see what they turn out like since I seem to have accumulated a bunch of them and this fellow seems the perfect way to use them up!

    Thank you so much for the update.  I see you weren't able to include a stuffed toy in that distribution at Morester Ladysmith so you really must be short on them.  I must hunt around for some that haven't been mailed yet, or head out to the thrift shops again.  I love the idea of blanket packs with goodies hidden inside.  A much easier way to distribute that is for sure.  The delight of the children is wonderful to see.  To think of them having more warmth...I love that!  Thank you very much for a great report!  I am going to go now and enjoy the photos again.  Aren't those little ones beyond adorable?  How I love the kind souls who look after these children.  Every one makes a difference.   

  • Lovely report, great to see all the children and the babies with their KAS goodies.

    I do hope for an end to the postal strike asap, not good if our contributions are not being received as this will no doubt delay distributions of goodies. Although it is spring in SA (as it is here in Australia), nights are often still quite cold and the blankets especially are still going to be needed.

    Will look forward to hopefully seeing lots of opening day parcels soon!

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