We woke up on Friday, 6 December to the very sad news that the father of our nation, Tata Nelson Mandela (Madiba) had passed away at his home in Houghton. On behalf of all the members of Knit-A-Square we pay loving tribute to this most profoundly humble, kind and forgiving man and what better way to honour his memory than with a KAS distribution?
We teamed up with two South African businesses, Accutronics and Eketsa Interior Design, and headed to Bophelong, an informal settlement situated near Vanderbijlpark, which is in the southern-most part of Gauteng. The staff at Accutronics and Eketsa have been supporting the Bophelong Children’s Home for two years now and, as part of their corporate social responsibility initiative, collect much-needed food, clothing and other items for the home and provide them with support wherever possible. Today they were making a special Christmas delivery of gifts for the children and food to keep them going over the festive period. Knit-A-Square was made aware of this project via one of our volunteers, Gina, who belongs to the same community forum as Tobie from Accutronics and we asked whether we could joint their Christmas initiative and distribute some of your warm, hand-knitted blankets, beanies and tops to the children.
Wendy and I travelled to the Home with a full KASvan and listened to the coverage, on the radio, of Nelson Mandela’s passing. We made sure we had a box of tissues for the trip and boy, did we need them …. !
There were more tears to come on our arrival at the Bophelong Children’s Home when one of the young residents, struggling with her own emotions, addressed us with the opening statement “My mother threw me away, but I am no longer an orphan because this is now my home……”
She continued by thanking everyone for caring, and for the assistance in the way of food and clothing to enable Emily, mother to the 58 orphaned children at this home, to feed, care for and educate her charges.
We were given a tour of the home Emily has created for these 58 orphaned or abandoned children ranging in age from a few months to 19 years old and, although there is very little space, one gets the feeling that these children are loved and cared for. The stories of abuse and abandonment endured by most of the children we met are truly heart-rending. These few have been rescued though, and despite the desperate sadness of the speeches we heard today, there is an atmosphere of hopefulness for the future at Emily’s Bophelong Home.
The staff from Accutronics and Eketsa, together with the very enthusiastic children, Wendy and I helped carry the gifts, food and other items inside. There was much ululating and excitement as even a Christmas tree was brought in for the home!!!!
Emily continued to show as around and even took us on a walk through Bophelong to one of the 4 day care centres she manages on top of the home she runs - a lady with a very large heart!
It is still too warm for the children to be wrapped up in winter woollies so Emily will put the KAS items away until the weather cools down. We know that the bright, cheerful colours of the blankets will brighten the home up and encourage the children to know that each and every one of them is cared for and held in the thoughts, prayers and love of people from all over the world.
Friday, 6 December we woke up to what was a very sad day for the world, but Knit-A-Square will continue to be inspired by Nelson Mandela’s life, his love of children and everything that he stood for - with your help - through the work we do for orphaned and vulnerable children in South Africa.
We will keep our special farewell sign on the back of the KASvan for the time being!