St Albans’ inmates partake in annual 67 blankets project

2018-01-24 06:00
Founder of 67 Blankets, Carolyn Steyn, said she is amazed at how the project has changed the lives of the inmates at St Albans Correctional Service.                                              Photo:THANDI SETOKOE

Founder of 67 Blankets, Carolyn Steyn, said she is amazed at how the project has changed the lives of the inmates at St Albans Correctional Service. Photo:THANDI SETOKOE

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IN celebration of the late Madiba’s 100th birthday this year, the 67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day organisation, in collaboration with the Department of Correctional Services (DCS), have partnered to create a massive Mandela masterpiece.

Last week the organisation enjoyed an afternoon of crocheting with the St Alban Correctional Services’ inmates.

The founder of 67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day, Carolyn Steyn, said it still took her by surprise that so many people wanted to get involved in the project.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that a ball of wool could snowball into a movement,” Steyn said.

She said the idea was born four years ago on her husband’s birthday, just after the passing of Nelson Mandela, “I was boasting about my very little domestic abilities and a friend suggested that I make 67 blankets for Mandela Day and I agreed. Little did I know that my sister would arrive on Christmas day with balls of wool reminding me of my pledge.”

Steyn described how the blankets that were made in the correctional service facilities around the country were going to help create the largest portrait blanket in the world of the face of Nelson Mandela on April, 24 at Zonderwater maximum centre.

“Once completed, all the blankets will be stitched together. Every blanket, measuring 160cm x 160cm, is a pixel in that portrait of Madiba,” Steyn said.

Following the display, the blankets will then get taken apart and distributed to different communities and ambassadors around the country in need of extra warmth in the winter months.

One of the St Albans’ inmates said he was very happy to be part of the project because he now had something to keep him busy.

“Before this, I didn’t even know how to knit. Once I start knitting, I don’t want to stop. I am definitely going to use this skill to empower other people in my community.”

DCS acting director of Sport Recreation and Arts and Culture Laetitia Redman said initially, they had hoped to launch the project at St Albans last year, however, due to certain circumstances they had to launch it elsewhere.

“One of our main objectives is to ensure that offenders are properly rehabilitated and this project has assisted us towards that. This is one of the flagship projects of DCS in partnership with 67 blankets and it is one of the programmes that has been well constructed, such that it steers offenders towards social reintegration while at the same time very therapeutic,” Redman said.

She added that they had reached their target with the blankets, “So far we have knitted more than 2 500 blankets nationally.”

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