Knitters get busy
Purler of an effort from group
Mission Without Borders is an international Christian organisation looking after the needs of those suffering poverty or oppression, particularly in Eastern Europe — Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Moldova, Romania and Ukraine.
Mission Without Borders used to be called Underground Evangelism. The knitting section of Mission Without Borders is called Operation Cover Up.
The Whanganui branch is sending a shipment of woollen garments, hand knitted by dedicated volunteers, to the needy in the area.
Jenny Whitlock organised a group of women to create knitwear and other essentials, including toilet bags filled with simple toiletries.
“Things we take for granted,” says Jenny. “Some of these people don’t have bathrooms, let alone shampoo and conditioner.”
Laid out in a room at the Salvation Army in Indus St, ready for packaging, were piles of jumpers, slippers, scarves, socks, hats and more, representing 12 months’ work from Whanganui and Palmerston North.
Everything is labelled according to age and gender for easy distribution.
“All our blankets have got a toy attached,” says Jenny, pointing to a gigantic pile of knitted blankets and an equal number of beautifully crafted knitted soft toys.
The women have thought of everything: they’ve included a number of marble bags, complete with 25 marbles in each bag. “That will keep some boys happy.”
The shipment is destined to be carried by Salvation Army van to Hookers Transport. From there Hookers transport it to Auckland, free of charge.
“It all gets sorted in the Mission Without Borders warehouse in Auckland, then it goes in containers to Amsterdam, then to the mission warehouse in Romania, and from there to the countries which have requested help.”
Each of the six countries has a Mission Without Borders headquarters. Almost everything they knit, with the exception of scarves, is made with real wool.
“We scrounge for wool, and we always need more,” says Jenny. “We have a couple of ladies who look around second-hand shops for wool.”
Some is donated.
“Then it comes here for us to knit it up. I don’t think we ever stop knitting.”
The women will knit at home or they’ll get together socially where they . . . knit. A lot of things are patchwork so every scrap of wool is used. Many of the blankets are comprised of peggy squares.
The knitting being packed in fadges is not the end. It continues until another shipment is ready.
“We need more wool and we also need more knitters.”
Jenny has been to Eastern Europe and seen the need.
“The first time, I went as a Christian clown to a summer camp. Dressed as a clown you get the kids’ attention straight away.”
She has made four trips. “The first time was to Bosnia. While we were there we visited a refugee camp and I was knocked sideways by what I saw there, and I came out thinking I had to do something to help these poor people. I came home and put out a call for good quality gifts for the people of this refugee camp. We almost filled a small container — it was astonishing.
“People would bring brand new towels to church to go in the container . . . I was at St Andrews at the time. One day I was in church and the minister’s wife came up to me and said she had something for me.”
It was a return ticket to Bosnia so she could personally see the arrival of the container at the camp.
“It changed my life. When I see how much we have in this country, you can’t not do something.”
The Whanganui Happenings section of the Midweek carries a permanent par about Operation Cover Up. One of the knitters, Kathrene, saw it and has been knitting for the cause ever since.
“I like to knit and I have a bit of time. I thought it was a wonderful project to be involved with,” she says. “We meet once a month and this is the third time I’ve been along. It’s just wonderful to see what can be achieved.”
The women knitting for Mission Without Borders (from left) Ngaire, Jennifer, Lucy, Jenny, Denise and Kathrene. Absent are Lesley, Jill and Kay.