Following Helen's successful 'gogo blanket appeal', Ronda thought our contributors might be interested to meet some of the gogo groups! Warts and All!
Our foundation group, from Chiawelo, some of whom also participated in the MedLemon knitting training with great relish, specially at tea time, is shown in the first set of pics. This was the day we handed all those scarves to them, which came from ............... someone whose name I cannot now remember !!! They were SO thrilled. The Chiawelo group is run by Johanna (Lolo, as Wandi calls her) and, along with a few ups and downs, they have become our mainstay in terms of stitching of blankets. There about 30 members of the group and they take bundles of squares to their homes to sew together, and then return them when ready. These ladies always neaten their blankets by crocheting around the edge, which makes them stronger, too.
The KasVan parked outside the Chiawelo Community Centre
Chiawelo Gogos with their scarves
Chiawelo - the oldest gogo
Chiawelo - Wandi and Lindi counting up the blankets
Chiawelo - common mode of transport (our supermarket chains lose thousands of trollies annually !)
[Pic of the trip made into Soweto recently to collect 90 blankets from the Chiawelo gogo group, drop another 10 bags off and deliver some other items to Wandi for a Sunday School distribution to be held on 18th by her friend Pastor Ellen in Tspepisong.]
Chiawelo - new bags delivered for stitching up.
Happy Gogo Group
Happy Gogo's is in the Dobsonville area of Soweto and was discovered by Wandi. This group has taught us quite a lot about managing our sewing requirements as they have been a handful !! Initially we found that they had taken the bundles of 35 squares and reduced them, making MORE, but much
SMALLER blankets. So having taken them 3 bags of 9 blanket packs, we arrived to collect them with R270.00 only to find that they had made 34 blankets and were expecting R340.00 !! Wandi and I stuck to our guns because some of the blankets were too small - we paid them R270.00 and left them to distribute those blankets themselves.
We decided to trust them second time around after carefully explaining, for the second time, how things should work. However on our return to collect the blankets, we found that the lady in whose house the group operates had stitched some beautiful squares together into a LARGE throw with which to adorn her sofa !! NOT a good idea, we thought, even though it looked wonderful ! Previously we had taken Ms Banda some cotton squares for her own use and to encourage her rather unhappy looking group of gogos, and she certainly did make a beautiful covering for her large double bed with those - as you can see. I am sure you will all agree that, with kindness and respect, we have decided we should give this group a miss in future. But we remain friends and they are frequently in contact with Wandi to try and obtain more squares !!!
Wandi has also found a group of women in Naledi who are newly involved in sewing blankets together and doing a wonderful job. She did appoint a woman close to home during this year, but discovered that she is a sangoma (witch doctor) and indeed, on a subsequent distribution to hand out her blankets we were both extremely uncomfortable with her antics !! Never a dull moment !
GIRL GUIDES IN SOWETO
We have a group of Girl Guides in Soweto who have been stitching up for us, but sadly returning such badly constructed blankets that they, too, will need to be re-taught before getting their hands on more of our precious squares.
Our newest and most prolific gogo group is in Evaton (there is going to be a full Report from South Africa on this group). We started with Connie's group and after a while the news spread and was picked up by one, Mabel, who is full of enthusiasm for Knit-a-Square and has joined us as a weekly volunteer. She is an amazingly well-organised lady and has literally dozens of gogo groups who are sewing hundreds of our blankets together - in the first five months we received 720 blankets via her groups, and at present they are working on another 600 odd blanket packs and their workmanship is very good. Mabel has helped us with distributions.
Lindi has several sewing groups operating in Tshepisong - those gogo groups prefer to see the blankets that they sew up being distributed within their own areas and indeed we have visited creches on their behalf, on several occasions - reports to come.
There is a new group in Kagiso, yet to get started - and interest is being shown from elsewhere in Soweto, too.
We need to be cautious that it is not simply the money they are after. Little as it is, the awful poverty across this country makes even R10 a desirable target.
RETURNING TO BASE !
Off-loaded the newly completed blankets with Mobutho's help (another small cost there!) because the KASvan will be having a rest next week while I am in the Cape. [Ronda is now back.]
The last series of pics are showing Wandi's quite amazing school uniform business which she runs in partnership with her daughter Khita (shown in one of the pics).
We are so delighted about this - Wandi has had an EXTREMELY difficult life and is so deserving of such good breaks. One day she may even decided to tell her story and describe the hardship and suffering she has endured - and still does in some areas, always in her gracious manner.
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Oh dear, all the 'behind the scenes' goings-on. I alternated between horror and laughter whilst reading the stories of the various groups. Just another indication of Ronda's patience and persistence in doing the best by our squares.
Congrats to Wandi and her daughter, Khita on their business. I sincerely wish them continuing success. xo
All the best to Wandi and Khita for their business venture. The uniforms look beautifully made !
What adventures to get our squares sewn into blankest of the right size, a real mixture of laughter and tears !! Oh my you do so much for us in SA. Thank goodness for the successful groups.
I am delighted to see all this information about the various Gogo groups and yes the Happy Gogo's certainly were an eye opener. Wow. I am glad though that you have so many dedicated groups. Was it KASer Ute Sadler who sent all the scarves over for the Gogo's? It was a member in the U.K. of that I am certain.
is there anything we can send for the Gogos as gifts? It is lovely that the women were so delighted about the scarves. I can always send some scarves if the women of the other groups would appreciate them? Then there is also some bigger hand warmers to keep their hands warm while stitching. I had better stop there I don't want to create more work !!! You have plenty of work to do. I think you are shaping up for careers in your next life as diplomats !
Perhaps we can send some cotton or flannel fabric ? Ms. Banda obviously wanted more than 10 Rand from the project. I would support anything that helps her and her group improve their own situation, however with the caveat that the original squares are first properly made up.
Even my own casual labour tries to extend the 'working' hour by leaving water bottles at home base and then walking 400 meters, there and back, when they're thirsty.
Interesting report. So many genuinely good GoGo groups and also some that are not so good! It is interesting to see how instructions can be interpreted to the benefit of some isn't it?
I guess you get good and bad in all types of working groups though!
I was just strolling through the photos and saw this link from Pam. Goodness there is all the politics to deal with too. I have always been concerned about someone taking the blankets from the children and selling them. Gosh what a shock to expect to collect 9 blankets to find a pile of small ones. Thank you for your care with who to trust.
How good to see Wandi and Khita working on the uniforms. They look fabulous.
Hurrah for Mabel - I am so relieved that you have found her - as she is on the same page as you.
Look how things have grown, ( great Oaks from Little acorns) we started sending a few squares in an Air mail envelope in early 2009, and now we send parcels of up to 2kg by surface mail as with the growth of supporters, there is not the same urgency as at the start. Merry Christmas & a Happy New year to you all , from Sandra and me