Knit­ters get busy

Purler of an ef­fort from group

Whanganui Midweek - - FRONT PAGE - By PAUL BROOKS

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.”

PIC­TURE / PAUL BROOKS

The women knit­ting for Mis­sion With­out Bor­ders (from left) Ngaire, Jen­nifer, Lucy, Jenny, Denise and Kathrene. Ab­sent are Les­ley, Jill and Kay.

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