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The Knitting and Crochet Revolution

A Good Read

Morning Carolyn,
My son, Christopher lives in Australia and is a great admirer of our 67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day (South Africa) movement and wrote the following which I used as inspiration for our recent White River gathering.
“We totally underestimate the importance of ‘belonging’ in people’s lives. It is a fundamental human need. We create these kinds of movements and we intellectualise the contributions of the knitters as wanting to give to others and help and so on, but we overlook the fact that for many lonely and single folk, it is the belonging that is most important Wrapping your head around that is quite the epiphany, because even as creators or leaders of these communities, we don’t think of it in that way, we tend to think of it as force for good that helps the recipients and we think that the contributors are doing their thing because they want to help others. Of course they do, but what they get from it that is perhaps more important for their own self-worth, is a sense of belonging to something bigger than themselves. It’s important to realise, because we should organise our activities in such a way that it serves both the charitable outcomes but also the ‘belonging’ aspect.
For example, there are things one could do for the contributors that are specifically about belonging and not necessarily about giving – it could be events, activities, swag, etc that celebrate their belonging, not just their giving. I suspect that belonging is closely linked to purpose.
As we get older and perhaps more socially isolated and the purpose of life seems more difficult to articulate, its the belonging that can fill the void.
It sounds like stating the bleeding obvious but I’m only coming to terms with the importance of it as I get older. A last thought is on the importance of institutions. I’ve come to understand that democracy is not the government. If you were to put democracy under the microscope you would see that it is a kit of parts. The key parts are institutions. The reserve bank, the judiciary, the police, the revenue collection authority, the parliament, the presidency, the constitutional court, the public protector, the competition ombudsmen, the hawks, the provincial govt, the local govt, the army, the IEC, etc. In Southern Africa, the challenge to democracy comes in the form of the capture and subsequent collapse of those institutions. What can one do in the face of the institutional collapse? Yes you can vote, boycott, protest, etc as one should do. But the other thing you can do, that is a controllable, is to build new institutions or support existing ones that are still functional. 67 Blankets is an institution, Jeppe Boys High is an institution, the Springboks are an institution, Rotary is an institution. And that is the way we should look at them and cherish them and celebrate them. The people building those institutions, often in the most trying of circumstances, are the real nation builders – for the affect of their work is the sense of belonging and pride and public service and excellence and care for others that is no longer provided through the ‘official’ institutions.
Their role is fundamental to the survival of democracy and as long as they are growing and functioning and well supported, there is hope.
Copy supplied by Ambassador Penny Boden

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Beneficiaries on Stage
Carolyn on Stage
Mzansi Youth choir