Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Update from Afghans4Afghans

Here's the latest from A4A - the items you knit and we shipped in the fall have arrived in Afghanistan, and were distributed in December. Way to go! What a wonderful effort!

Dear Knitters and Crocheters for Afghanistan,Good news about our last big shipment ...In October, we shipped 81 cartons to Afghanistan for the kids in the programs sponsored by Church World Service. These boxes contained 6,344 hand-knit and crocheted wool blankets and garments for girls and boys ages 7-14. The air shipment arrived in less than 2 weeks and then proceeded through customs and inspections in time for the start of winter. (Shipments by land/sea/land can take 6-9 months or longer.)We are very happy to report that our wool gifts were distributed in December. You've heard the new stories about the severe winter weather. Thank you for rallying when it matter. We are grateful to Church World Service for handling the transport and distribution -- for serving those who suffer the most from war.Church World Service partners with and supports local Afghan organizations in Kabul, Bamiyan, and Markaz-e-Oslah-Tarbeet. The girls and boys receiving their services are the greatest victims of violence and poverty. Most have lost family members. At these childrens' centers, the kids learn about land-mine safety, health and hygiene, children's rights, and cooperation. They have a chance to use books at the library, eat a nutritious meal, try a computer, and play sports. Church World Service reports that the Kabul distribution included cultural performances by the children as part of a ceremony. The girls and boys were appreciative and expressed their warm wishes and happy holidays to you and all people around the world!If we receive photos that are appropriate to share, we will. Meanwhile, please enjoy knowing that your handmade gifts are now being used by these children this winter. Makes all the effort -- by you and so many across the U.S. and Canada -- worthwhile, doesn't it.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


Ok, Toronto - Way to Go! Many, many thanks to all the people who knit and crocheted things and sent them to us via the Knit Cafe! And, thanks to the Knit Cafe for being a collection point. The inventory, as counted by my children:
45 big kid or adult hats
19 little kid or baby hats
21 pairs of mittens
7 pairs of slippers or socks
37 scarves
7 sweaters
3 blankets.

These things will have a story to tell - picked up by my sister in law, and packed up in a hockey bag with her lucky number, sitting through my husband's meeting before he brought them to Ottawa this week. Now they will go to Anita's, and then shipped on their way to the people who need them! Many hands at work! There are so many beautiful things that I know will bring warmth and comfort to others.

And, that's not all! I dropped in at Yarn Forward today, and they had two bags of things for us. I had to take a photo of this incredible baby dress and sweater. What a lucky child that will wear this one! And a great assortment of blankets, hats, a fun red hat and sweater set, and a cute vest with owls on it, complete with eyes! My six year old summed it up - "There are so many great people out there. It looks like they must be knitting and knitting and knitting. I hope their hands don't get sore."

Thanks also to Yarn Forward for continuing to be a great collection point. I am not sure who is more impressed with the donations - Anita and I or the staff there!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

A Message from Dulaan

Hey everyone. We got the following message from Dulaan awhile ago, and I loved it so I'm posting it here:

Dear Friends of F.I.R.E.,
Mal süreg targan tavtaiyuu (“I hope your livestock are fattening up nicely”) – a polite greeting in the Mongolian countryside.
Greetings to you and your family. Thank you again for your continued support and generous donations allowing the Flagstaff International Relief Effort (F.I.R.E.) to assist the poor of Mongolia since1999.
Since Mongolia embraced a free market economy in the early 1990’s the economic situation of the country has steadily improved. However, the resulting income gap means the poor are being left even farther behind. 32% of Mongolians still live in poverty with over 25% of the population surviving on an income less than $2 US dollars per day. Consistently high unemployment, malnutrition, poor access to clean drinking water, and obstacles to obtaining primary and secondary school educations are continuing to pose challenges to Mongolians.
In 2007, your generosity allowed us to ship 2 containers and ...
Personally distribute 12 tons of winter clothing, including over 17,000 hand knits, to over 5,000 of Mongolia’s poorest children and families.
Assist schools with educational supplies and English books, including 80 computers loaded with English language software for English learning.
Provide $300,000.00 worth of medical supplies to 20 rural hospitals and family clinics in 4 provinces.
Give medical lectures and medical training to approximately 250 physicians and nurses on a variety of clinical and public health topics.
Organize logistics for 10 American volunteers to deliver aid and experience Mongolian culture from a unique perspective.
Here is what two of the 2007 F.I.R.E. volunteers had to say about their experience in Mongolia:

“It was very gratifying and yet heart wrenching to hand warm clothes, and sometimes to actually put clothes right on, shivering, barefoot children and their families standing at the doors to their homes. Their looks of relief and gratitude will remain with me for the rest of my life.”
- Pat Phillips, a F.I.R.E. volunteer

“The doctors and nurses are often scraping by with old Soviet medical equipment, making house calls with minimal to no portable medical supplies. They show amazing resourcefulness working with little to accomplish near infinite goals. Most importantly they are starving for information on how we diagnose and treat various illnesses in the United States. The sharing of techniques, knowledge, styles, and pearls of clinical wisdom was rewarding both for me and for my Mongolian colleagues. I feel like we all learned from each other, and I left Mongolia, a better doctor, and have left a sustainable impact on a handful of rural family clinics in the Mongolian countryside.”
- Jason Prystowsky MD, MPH, F.I.R.E. medical volunteer
F.I.R.E. is committed to expanding its medical aid efforts in Mongolia. Over the past three years, F.I.R.E. volunteer medical professionals have worked together with their Mongolian colleagues distributing urgently needed medical supplies, exchanging knowledge, skills, and treatment techniques in the lecture hall and at the bedside of patients in rural clinics and hospitals.
2008 promises to be an exciting year for F.I.R.E.’s efforts in Mongolia. In September 2008, we are planning on bringing a specialized surgical team, made up of Flagstaff-based surgeons. to perform surgeries in a neglected hospital in rural Mongolia, Tuv Aimag. This team will also provide educational training and surgical supplies to help make this hospital more self sustaining. This will be the beginning of a long term, collaborative relationship with this hospital.
Additionally, we will also continue distributing winter clothing and educational supplies to rural communities throughout the countryside.
Your contributions make this possible. The future of F.I.R.E.’s activities depends on your continued support. F.I.R.E. prides itself on delivering the most needed aid directly to the hands of people who need it most. With your help, we can continue to help the poorest and most vulnerable people in Mongolia.
Only 8% of F.I.R.E.'s cash donations are used for administrative cost. So, as director of F.I.R.E., I can guarantee that 92% of your funds will go directly to support the needy in Mongolia.
A donation of just $20 from each person who receives this letter will take us to half of our total 2008 goal. If you can do more---$50, $75, or $100---your generous gift will help us to help even more Mongolians.
Please think of F.I.R.E. and the people of Mongolia during this time of giving and as you make your end of the year contributions. The more money we receive right now, the more plans we can make for 2008.
(“Thank you!”)
Meredith Potts
Executive Director

Sunday, January 6, 2008

"They Keep Pulling us Back In..."

Like my Pacino impression? We thought that we were calling it quits on December 31st, but we've had some kharmic interventions which helped us decide to keep the collection going until March 31st:

1. We set up a mitten tree at a children's Christmas show at the Glebe Community Centre, expecting to get a few items - we received about 50 sets of mittens and hats - thanks, Glebe and Ottawa South families! Here is a picture of some of the stuff we gathered.

2. I received a few calls and e-mails from some of our very cool contributors (shout-out to Maria, Jeannine, Rob's mom and the Cornwall collective) asking whether we were continuing beyond the deadline. Inspiring, ladies.

3. We got 2000 (you read right) knitted squares from the good people of Coats & Clark. We've recruited a gang to start assembling the squares into blankets (including my Aunty Jeet and my own Mommy - this is a picture of some of the blankets they've made with the squares).

4. The Toronto knitters are stepping it up - we received a message from the Knit Cafe saying "Pick up your stuff, 'cause its piling up". Now that's a sweet message to get.

Bottom line, the need is great and the knitters are great, so we're going to keep going. Our new deadline is March 31st. We're going to continue shipping to Mongolia (where its cold 12 months of the year), and we're going to try to find a way to get another shipment to the Innu. You can drop off your stuff at Yarn Forward on Bank and in Kanata (check out the sweater that Auriol Rapin just dropped off, left picture).

Keep it up, and we love hearing from you!