Thursday, September 09, 2010

Knitting toward a better future

Image courtesy African Equity.

THE ancient art of knitting is a handy hobby for many modern Australians but half the world away in Kenya it can be a survival skill. Kenyan families, like those in the town of Nyahururu, near the hometown of US President Barak Obama's family, depend on the garments they knit, not only to clothe themselves but also to earn income from sales. That is why the charity, African Equity, placed a Classified notice seeking hand-operated sewing machines.

THE aim is to equip a Nyahururu orphanage to train its youngsters.African Equity, which Cleveland businessman Chris Anderson founded about two years ago, focuses on "breaking the cycle of poverty through education and employment – creating an environment of self sufficiency and autonomy, not dependence". Mainly supporting Kenya's largest orphanage, Heroes of the Nation, African Equity also runs other community projects such as medical clinics, adult education and vocational training. It has set up business initiatives, including maize grinding and agricultural and mechanical services, and regularly ships containers of goods, many of which are donated.

THE call for knitting machines followed a recent trip to Nyahururu by African Equity volunteers including Alexandra Hills dentist Debbie Leong, Cleveland accountant Derek Grewar and former Rural Press Cleveland general manager Greg Watson. Derek and Greg took their families on the working holiday. Greg returned with advice that the knitting machines are "like gold" in the Kenyan culture. Bayside Bulletin/The Redland Times sales coordinator Gordon Lawrence, who also is an AE volunteer, had good news for a meeting of the group this week at Noci Italian Ristorante, Raby Bay. Three Redland donors are keen to back the cause and their machines will be shipped to the orphanage soon.

GORDON says the warm response points to a big future for the Redland-based charity, which has about 20-30 volunteers and a policy of encouraging direct contact with the Kenyan beneficiaries, whether through visits or other methods including internet hook-ups. "African Equity is helping the kids over there in a myriad of ways," he says. "They have only just received seven containers that were sent about a month ago." He says shipments have included clothing, kitchen utensils, a piano and even an ambulance.

THE website,, says 47,000 pairs of reconditioned prescription glasses from the Redcliffe Lions Club and 300 all-terrain wheelchairs from the Gold Coast Rotary Club were part of the 2009 inventory, along with surplus stock, seconds and clearance items. "Hundreds of thousands of dollars of benefit has been created from products that may have otherwise been left idle in warehouses," the charity says.

Thanks for joining me today in the marvellous community of classified advertising. This column appeared in The Redland Times in early August.

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