Part Two: Oliver, a special needs school and the dump families

by sandy on September 24, 2010

In July 2009, Cedarwood College a special needs school ‘adopted’ knit-a-square, in as much as their whole school community produced a staggering 4,000 squares in just under 5 weeks.

At the time, we were enjoying the first avalanche of arriving post as a result of the article in the Lion Brand ezine. Anyone involved in packing up even 100 squares will empathise with the massive volume represented by 4,000 squares. Ronda turned to Oliver Quambasch of Hotel Hope, who with his boundless enthusiasm for embracing a challenge, immediately agreed to take them.

His work had introduced him to the ‘dump families’ – 56 people, men, women and children who survived by foraging for food and items among the rubbish, on the main municipal dump in Johannesburg.

Previously, he had wondered aloud to Ronda if we could provide him with enough squares for blankets for these people, and here was the perfect fit, enough squares for blankets for all members of the dump families.

It took a while, but recently Oliver wrote to Ronda:

Greetings in his precious name. We were able last week to distribute knitted blankets and hats as well as food to the recyclers on the rubbish dump. While, Im not as good a photographer as you are, I hope that the photos speak for themselves.

dump families

And they do, eloquently, about the tenacity of the human spirit and how we can all reach out square by square to make a difference.

CedarWood College community, (who have just over-reached themselves again by producing another 4,000 squares – what a wonderful contribution), should be rightfully proud of their part in this group effort to bring some comfort to these people, living under such difficult cirmcumstances.

A little boy who survives with his family on the municipal dump in Johannesburg, with cereal supplied by Oliver Quambusch of Hotel Hope.

Oliver has been generous in his support of KAS and Ronda, offering her the services of John who works for him, as a courier to collect the parcels on a weekly basis and deliver them to her home, saving her hours in time and reducing the physical load of her work. We are hugely thankful to them both for this contribution to KAS. More recently, he has agreed to store the deliveries whenever the family are away, so that we can be assured of the parcel’s safety and until the resulting backlog is cleared.

But as his letter highlights below, it is to you the contributors to KAS to whom the real thanks are owed.

A mother and her baby, swaddled in a knit-a-square blanket, living on the municipal dump in Johannesburg.

Dear Ronda and everyone at Knit-A-Square,

Thank you for your donation of a large bag of beautifully knitted beanies, blankets and vests as well as soft toys to Hotel Hope Ministries. Your contribution makes a great difference in the lives of those we care for, orphaned and abandoned children and pregnant mothers in crisis, mainly in the Alexander area.

We have recently partnered with ALHarvest, a Christian organisation in Pretoria who care for women working as prostitutes who would like to leave the profession. We assist them in looking after ladies who have fallen pregnant on the job, but are willing to carry their babies full term and give them up for adoption.

Currently we are looking after two ladies, whose babies are due in September. Please join us in prayer that we will find loving families for these two children and that soul ties will be broken. Thank you again for your generosity. We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without you. In His service,

Oliver Quambusch Founder Hotel Hope Ministries – short-term interventions – long-term results

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Tracy September 29, 2010 at 06:51

These photos and stories make my eyes prick with tears. Far too many human beings are forced to live through unimaginable pain and trauma. I am acutely aware that the only difference between them and me is my birth – I was fortunate, blessed enough to be born into circumstances far easier than others. There’s no other difference; I am no better than anyone else.

And then to ponder the simple act of knitting a square or a hat that can make such an enormous difference. Its almost unbelievable, and yet so true.

A SQUARE?!? Something most of us can manage for pennies in under an hour of time?

But our squares are improving lives. They are brightening, warming and even saving lives every day.

Thank you KAS! You have become a vehicle through which every KAS-er can make their contribution towards a better world. You have made it so easy……perhaps too easy.

Please, keep “feeding” us these stories and photos. They aren’t comfortable to look at or read, but we need less comfort and more motivation!

Zanny October 5, 2010 at 22:41

Tracy, I agree with every word you have written – and – what an apt KAS-er guideline or motto ” LESS COMFORT AND MORE MOTIVATION”.

Ginny Donner October 5, 2010 at 23:38

Is there an address where knitted squares etc could be sent? Here in
South Burlington, Vermont I have no success with the Postal service at all… they claim “they do not know ANYTHING about shipping to
S. Africa —-I am a senior and transp. is a problem…./ However have
yarn and knitted pieces to send…..ginny

Trish October 6, 2010 at 00:07

My Gosh … Just how lucky are we to be born in such a fortunate place..I live in Australia. born in the UK .as for myself I enjoy knitting the squares just realising the help which is required…you all do such a wonderful and loving job…spread the word around the world.

Dawne October 6, 2010 at 17:30

Hi Ginny,

The shipping address is:
Soweto Comfort Club
Private Bag X900
Bryanston 2021, South Africa

I’m sorry to hear you are having problems with your local post office. US Post does ship to South Africa by airmail. If you look online at their site (Calculating International Postage) it is clearly one of the destinations. Perhaps you can point the postal workers you are speaking with to the USPS website?

Helen Flagg October 6, 2010 at 18:18

Ginny, I just posted a detailed description for you about what
you need to fill in at the P.O. to send things to SA. to you will find it.
Good luck.

Helen Flagg October 6, 2010 at 18:20

Well, I just tried the link above, and it won’t link. Ginny,
scroll to the top of this page and click on The KASCuddle
Knitalong and when the page opens, scroll down to my
explanation. Good luck!

Paula October 8, 2010 at 14:47

Tracy said for me all I was thinking. Thank-you to KAS for making me feel useful.

jo neri October 9, 2010 at 05:10

this is networking at it’s best, ‘very moving’ doesn’t even come close.

susan gillman October 11, 2010 at 07:40

How wonderful to see the people of the community at the dump have received blankets and more! I have thought about them ever since they were mentioned in another ezine. How lovely to receive items that they have not had to forage for, and more, that they will know through Oliver that they are not forgotten people, they belong with all of us in the wider world.

Jeanne Haessler October 11, 2010 at 17:07

I agree that “Less Comfort and More Motivation” is a super motto. Mother Theresa said “You can’t comfort the afflicted without afflicting the comfortable.” So, if the pictures and stories touch us and perhaps rouse others to wake up and help then yeah, I’m okay with it, as Tracy is. These stories always touch me too. Perhaps someone in the USA could offer that Ginny could mail her stuff to them and then they could mail it overseas for her? I don’t think mailing it up here to me in Canada would be less expensive, not with customs etc. to go through enroute. :P

Maggie Stevenson November 24, 2010 at 19:58

I live in a Spanish pueblo and today I posted off my first 12 knitted squares. Wanted to tell you how generous Alfonso the post master here in the village was. On weighing the squares he told me the postage was 17 Euros but when I told him the envelope contained knitted squares which would be sewn together to make blankets for children, many of whom have been orphaned by AIDS/HIV the cost was reduced to 9 euros. He told me that he couldn’t knit but he wanted to help make a difference to the lives of these children in need. On my next visit to the post office I intend to give him a copy of the Square Circle ezine though guess I’ll have to translate it into Spanish first, at least the photographs will tell their own story.

Dawne November 28, 2010 at 17:54

Thank you/Gracias Maggie! So glad you let us know. What a wonderful story and a generous postmaster indeed! I’m sure he’ll love to see a copy of an ezine, even if you only translate half of it. It is moments of kindness, like this, that shine a light on the good found in our world.

Thank you again!

Ginny Donner May 23, 2011 at 19:18

Several packages sent to Soweto – with squares etc… April 12th -2011.
hope it arrived intact…. all good wishes for the children. more to be
sent in a few weeks..ginny

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