Stitch in time a chance to save lives

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Destination Afloat - CATHER­INE MAR­SHALL

ARMED­with just a ball of wool, a pair of bam­boo knit­ting nee­dles and an easy-to-fol­low knit­ting pat­tern, pas­sen­gers and crew on P&O Cruises ships are bring­ing com­fort to new­born ba­bies in the com­mu­ni­ties vis­ited on re­gional voy­ages.

This con­tri­bu­tion has been made pos­si­ble through the Save the Chil­dren or­gan­i­sa­tion’s Born to Knit pro­gram.

Pas­sen­gers are sup­plied with enough wool to knit a woollen square for a baby’s blan­ket. They can ei­ther pur­chase more wool to com­plete the blan­ket or hand over their squares to be sewn to­gether by a group of vol­un­teers in Mel­bourne.

The com­pleted blan­kets are then dis­trib­uted among Pa­cific com­mu­ni­ties to help ward off dis­eases such as pneu­mo­nia, one of the big­gest killers of chil­dren aged un­der five in the de­vel­op­ing world.

‘‘It’s heart­break­ing to think there are some kids [ in the Pa­cific] who don’t have some of the ba­sics we take for granted, like a warm blan­ket,’’ says Simon Cheng, mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor at Car­ni­val Aus­tralia, which op­er­ates P&O Cruises.

Aside from the knit­ting pro­gram, each pas­sen­ger is asked to do­nate $1 through on­board ac­counts to a va­ri­ety of health and ed­u­ca­tional projects run by Save the Chil­dren in the Pa­cific, from the build­ing of first-aid posts and dis­pen­saries to the train­ing of health­care work­ers.

‘‘I think the part­ner­ship with Save the Chil­dren has enor­mous po­ten­tial to help re­shape com­mu­nity ex­pec­ta­tions in the Pa­cific,’’ says Ann Sherry, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Car­ni­val Aus­tralia. ‘‘Re­mote com­mu­ni­ties should have ac­cess to ser­vices that all of us would ab­so­lutely take for granted . . . our part­ner­ship helps make that hap­pen.’’ pocruises.com.au savethechil­dren.org.au

P&O cruise di­rec­tor Gemma Gre­gory Jones gets knit­ting

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