Saturday, March 23, 2013

AUSTRALIA : KNITTING FOR ORPHANS IN ROMANIA

ARCHDIOCESE OF MELBOURNE RELEASE

Knitting up a storm at Noble Park

Kairos  Volume 24, Issue 4

Words and Picture Rebecca Comini
THE sound of knitting needles and chatter can be heard every Friday morning at St Anthony’s, Noble Park, as a group of up to 30 women band together to knit goods for Romanian orphans.

The St Anthony’s Knitting Group was formed more than seven years ago; at first, knitting scarves and beanies, then expanding to garments for all ages and now concentrating on children’s clothing and knitted toys.

Di Pullin, coordinator of the knitting group, explained the group was born out of a separate parish program to teach English and life skills to young Sudanese mothers. After two years, the Sudanese women felt confident enough for the classes to come to an end, but the five ladies who ran the program wanted to do something else.

Di had been donating to a Christian charity that was looking for volunteers to knit for an orphanage in Moldova, which was in desperate need of blankets and winter clothing to combat the minus 22-degree temperatures.

‘I thought, why don’t we knit simple scarves and beanies and send them over, and it just grew from there,’ Di said. A call went out in the parish bulletin for interested knitters to join.

‘Many of our members were widowed and were sitting at home feeling lonely and isolated. They had all been great knitters when their children and grandchildren were small but now the grandchildren were grown up and knitting was a forgotten skill.

‘When the call came for people to form the knitting group … these ladies responded and were drawn out of that isolation and loneliness. They plucked long-forgotten patterns from the filing systems in their heads and off they went like rockets,’ Di said.

‘One lady’s husband died very suddenly. Because she doesn’t drive, she sat at home and didn’t go anywhere for three years. One of her daughters asked me about the knitting group and we arranged for her to be picked up by her next door neighbour, brought to Mass and the knitting group, then taken home again. Since then, she’s been a regular member every week. She wouldn’t miss it,’ Di said.

While the group originally knitted for one orphanage in Moldova, the goods are now sent to Romanian orphans via Foundations Worldwide, a non-denominational charity based in Melbourne.

The knitting group is multicultural, with members hailing from India, Argentina, Sri Lanka, Ireland, Italy and Australia.

Members are aged from 50 to 94, with those who have reached their 80th birthdays part of an ‘exclusive club’ within the knitting group, known as ‘The Rescued’.

‘One lady said to me one day that “we are going to be called The Rescued because you rescued us from being housebound and lonely”,’ Di said.
The group prays each week for the sick and the elderly of the parish, as well as family and friends.

An offshoot of the knitting group has been the St Anthony’s Prayer Shawl Ministry, which knits shawls in love and prayer for people in need of comfort and to know that God is with them.

SHARED FROM ARCHDIOCESE OF MELBOUNRE

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