UKZN Knitwits Create Blankets for Mandela Month
To commemorate Nelson Mandela Month, the UKZN community has been participating in a campaign to produce blankets for the less privileged. This culminated in a handover to ambassadors of the project recently held at Westville campus.
The initiative was part of the 67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day national drive.
Giving a brief background, Executive Director of Human Resources Ms Avril Williamson said the "Good Wool" drive started at the College of Law and Management Studies in August last year and spread to the rest of the University in May this year through a University-wide campaign.
Williamson said the University community had completed hundreds of squares which were joined together to make warm blankets.
Together the University community produced 1 780 squares which made 27 complete blankets - 942 of the squares were produced by College of Law and Management Studies representatives.
Staff, students, friends and family - some of whom have never touched a crochet hook before - spent lunch hours and personal time producing the squares.
Ms Thandiwe Jumo of the College of Law and Management Studies said: ‘The idea for the College to contribute to this initiative came out of a casual conversation I had with our Director of Professional Services Dr Kathy Cleland about her teaching me this amazing skill, and how the blankets made from this teaching and learning experience should benefit this worthy cause. Soon, everyone got involved and we were using the crocheting circle to share stories and life experience and made us connect and learn more about each other as a team.’
Jumo added that College staff were so passionate about the initiative that they secured wool donations from their local retailers, got their families to also contribute squares. ‘Cleland gave up most of her free time to put the squares into blankets as each blanket takes six hours to complete.’
Dr Paran Pillay of the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science, who donated a 140- square blanket, said it had been a most satisfying project and encouraged people to start now to submit next year.
KwaZulu-Natal Ambassador for the 67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day initiative Ms Linda Zama, who labelled the UKZN donation a “Big Bang Entrance”, gave a brief background of how the national drive started, saying the project had quickly spread to the rest of the world. They now receive blankets from far and wide, including prisons, corporate companies, and communities. The project has also been launched amongst school learners.
Zama encouraged staff and students to also join the “secret scarves” mission, where South Africans are encouraged to knit items and leave them in public places for those in need.
Williamson thanked the University community for being such passionate champions of this important initiative. ‘We encourage you to continue this work in service of people in need. We are helping to keep them warmer.’
Words by: Sithembile Shabangu