WATCH: Creating hope one stitch at a time: 'Every blanket sold is a person employed'

2018-12-27 16:56
Some of the 22 knitters from Blankets from Africa. (Screengrab)

Some of the 22 knitters from Blankets from Africa. (Screengrab)

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"Every blanket sold is a person employed."

These were the words Blankets from Africa founder Roslyn Bechet used when she spoke about the project she started in 2016.

It all began with a trip to the heartland of South Africa - the semi-desert Karoo.

There, she found that poverty was rife, the plight of women was dire and the unemployment rate was the highest she had seen.

"I was astounded by the decay, lack of employment and the plight of women living in the gorgeous wide open space with the most amazing raw materials," she said during an interview with News24.

"I left feeling I wanted to do something to help, and Blankets from Africa was born from that."

Income

The organisation brings women from all generations together and teaches them how to knit. The items they knit are sold to the public, creating an income for the women.

The idea was born when Bechet was looking for a gift for her husband in one of the rural communities. 

She met a woman who runs a community kitchen and takes care of orphans. The woman ran a small knitting programme to raise funds.

Today, Blankets from Africa has 22 knitters between the centres in Graaff Reinet and Port Elizabeth.

"People come and go. Some are lucky enough to find employment once they've been through our project," Bechet said.

"I feel proud of them because most of these women had no skills and they had fallen into a pit of unemployment [and] low self-esteem, with little education. It's a cycle and there was no way out for them."

The knitters create a range of products, including stroller and cot blankets and throws, using handmade 100% pure merino wool.

Bechet hopes to create knitting pods throughout the Karoo.

"My dream is to take this knitting project to all those Karoo towns, [use] our yarns that we've knitted, and [export] them to other lands. 

"Instead of exporting the wool and having it spun elsewhere and the products made elsewhere. We want to do all that here, using our resources," she said.

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