Volunteers display blankets to honour Mandela’s legacy

In a colourful tribute to reminder of former president Nelson Mandela, knitters and crocheters “KnitWits” from across the world hosted family days yesterday, where blankets were laid out around statues of the late world icon in various cities around the globe.

KNITTING FOR CHARITY: Emily Bouwer, the East London ambassador for 67 Blankets for Madiba, front, and fellow local knitters show off some of the blankets made for the family day, held at Heroes Park yesterday. The event, organised by 67 Blankets for Madiba founder Carolyn Steyn, was one of many held around the world at statues of Nelson Mandela Picture: ALAN EASON

The event, organised by 67 Blankets for Madiba founder Carolyn Steyn, was held in an effort to highlight Mandela’s rich legacy – the building of a caring society.
The East London leg was held at Heroes Park, where local 67 Blankets ambassador Emily Bouwer and her group of knitters displayed blankets in a rainbow of colours.
Bouwer, who joined in the organisation three years ago, said she and a group of 20 volunteers had managed to knit eight blankets for the day.
All of the blankets made by the volunteers, who included school pupils, prisoners and members of the public, – will be distributed to those in need.
Bouwer said she became a member of the non-profit organisation after seeing an advert on TV.
“And I love crocheting; it’s my passion. After seeing the advert I got onto their Facebook page and became involved in their first birthday celebration [in honour of Mandela’s birthday].
“Then I alone planned the second birthday party. It was then that I became an ambassador, and I’ve been so involved since then,” she said, adding that volunteers met once a week to each crochet or knit a block for a blanket.
“But now we’re struggling to find premises to meet at, and because this is a non-profit organisation we have no money to rent a space, so we just do what we can.
“We are also in desperate need of wool and we are struggling to find sponsors.”
Volunteer Prabha Kooverjee, also a member of the Braelyn Ladies Quilting Club, said they had wanted to become involved in the initiative as it was for in the name of charity.
Kooverjee and her group of 11 ladies began knitting a few months ago.
“We do it because we think it’s for a good cause. We want to help those who are less fortunate than us,” she said.
Steyn applauded all of the volunteers, saying that 67 Blankets for Madiba, which she started three years ago, went from making a humble 67 blankets in its first year to a record 270 00 last year.
She added that the organisation had become her prime motivation.
“67 Blankets has changed my life. It has become my raison d’etre [the most important reason for her existence].

What I have learned over the past three years is the importance of alliance, partnership, friendship and relationships embodying trust, respect, kindness and common purpose.
“None of what we have collectively achieved would have been remotely possible without these elements. And together we have achieved some great things.”
She urged others to get involved and make a blanket for someone less fortunate. “Madiba did say, ‘It is in your hands now’. And we are listening to him with every stitch we make,” she said.
Bouwer said anyone needing a blanket donation should visit the organisation’s Facebook page and fill out a beneficiary form. — zisandan@dispatch.co.za

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