Monday, July 20, 2009

Absolutely Stunning!

I don't have time for a real post today but I wanted to stop in for a moment to say


Our little malaria net fundraiser has been successful beyond our wildest dreams. We have raised $1255.60!!! That is 251 nets. Unbelievable. Our priest was stunned and overjoyed when we saw him on Saturday and we told him the total (at that time "only" $1000).

I am overwhelmed by your generosity and concern. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

More later but right now I have to go intervene before the little ones bring the house down around our ears!

Friday, July 17, 2009

My New WIP: Preventing Malaria

As you know, I try my best to keep this blog fairly light. I rarely tackle anything remotely hard-hitting preferring instead to attempt pithy comments and amusing banter. However, something has come to my attention recently and so, here, in my first post after a long absence I am going to do something serious, something I actually HATE doing. I am going to ask you for money. Not much money, but money nonetheless. Believe me, I know this is a tough time to open your wallet but I hope the you will read on and you will help. I know it's a long post, please indulge me :)

My husband, Todd, and I are trying to raise $500 in the next week to help our parish priest and native Kenyan provide 100 families in rural Kenya with anti-malarial mosquito nets for their children. Right now, when times are tough economically you can still help, even a small donation of just $5 - roughly your daily triple, non-fat, caramel machiatto - can buy a mosquito net that will keep children safe from malaria carrying mosquitoes.

Much has been made throughout the blogosphere of the generosity of the knitting and crafting community. I am hoping many of you choose to donate $5 for a net (and hopefully more), but please donate what you can, any amount puts us closer to giving a family a life saving tool. It’s important to note that 100% of the money we raise will go directly to buying the nets. No overhead, no wasted donations. Just money to save the lives of poor children in rural, western Kenya from malaria.

Why Are We Doing This? A Little Background

Todd and I belong to St. John’s Parish here in Seattle where a year ago Fr. Crispin Okoth, a village priest from Kenya, became our parish pastor. Fr. Crispin has been a wonderful addition to our lives. Listening to him preach and share stories of his life in Africa has been touching and a powerful reminder of how privileged we are to live in the United States. He is a joyful man, an even humbler priest and a selfless humanitarian. The last is not surprising given that Fr. Crispin hails from the rural, poor village of Bar-Kowino in Western Kenya outside the town of Bondo.

Father Crispin at St. John's School

Bar-Kowino has a little more then 4,000 residents, not a single paved road, and only a simple medical clinic in the nearby town of Bondo without a full time doctor. According to Fr. Crispin, the average “house” is a hut where all the kids of the “house” sleep together on the floor on mats.

This is a poor community that can use all the help it can get and where a little help goes a long way.

The Kenyan Goes Home - to help his Mother and Village

Fr. Crispin’s mother is ill and so he tries to go home as much as he can which, given the cost and distance, is only once or twice a year. When he has the chance to go home, Fr. Crispin likes to not only help his mom, but also do what he can do help his village. Fr. Crispin is well aware that very rural areas are often over-looked by the Kenyan government and international charities due to the logistics of getting to remote locations. So he takes it upon himself to cut through the red-tape to bring whatever assistance he can to his village.

One of the things that is near and dear to his heart is the fight against malaria. Priests are often surrogate care-givers in rural, poor areas of the developing world. And, as such, Fr. Crispin has done his fair share of acting as a medical proxy. Unfortunately that has meant holding way too many children in his arms as they suffered and died from malaria. All told, more then 50,000 (!) children die form malaria in Kenya every year. For comparison, there is a global swine flu epidemic that has dominated news cycles and public attention yet has killed less then a 1,000 world wide. How is it that we yet overlook the tragedy of malaria, horribly deadly but easily preventable? No one should die from malaria.

When the subject of malaria came up in a recent homily, Katie & I were both struck by the horror of so many children needlessly dying. One of the most effective ways to prevent malaria is to have children sleep under medically treated mosquito nets. And even better they are cheap solution- only $5 each! It truly only takes $5 to keep mosquitos form infecting and possibly killing a household of children because, as Fr. Crispin told us when we asked, all the children can sleep together under one large net on their sleeping mats. Both of us had heard of large charitable efforts like the one run by the NBA to help provide malarial nets, why did that not have a greater impact? The answer is two-fold. First is simply the scope of the need for the nets, Africa is, after all, an enormous, highly populous continent. The second reason is logistics. It is simply easier to distribute nets in more urban areas. The further from a population center you are, the less likely your are to have a net. Sadly, you are also far more likely to have less access to health care as well, not a good combination.

After several dinner table discussions, Todd and I agreed that we would try to help Fr. Crispin help his community back home by providing him with money to buy nets for his village. We set a (we hope) reasonable goal of raising $500, enough money to purchase 100 nets. And now we need your help. Your donations will have an immediate impact. Fr. Crispin leaves for Kenya on July 26th and will be distributing the nets to the neediest families as soon as he arrives. We need the donations by the 22nd so Fr. Crispin can order the nets in Nairobi for pickup when he arrives. Again, all the money donated will be used to purchase the nets. So please, help us help the children of Bar-kowino.

Remember, $500 = 100 families protected. $5.00 is not very much money and here is a situation where you can truly get a lot of bang for your buck.

And, if the knowledge that you are saving lives is not enough reward for you, I am sweetening the pot. If you donate, I will put your name into the hat for a yarn giveaway. Not a knitter? Don't worry, non-knitters who win will be gifted a handmade item. Here are the details:

  1. Head over to the little Chipin widget on the right hand side of my blog.
  2. Donate! (THANK YOU!!!!!)
  3. Email me (dancingsheepnw [at], pm me on Ravelry (dancingsheep) or comment and tell me you donated (I'm not sure how much tracking Chipin let's us do so this will let me know who's donated). When you donate, your name goes in the proverbial hat.
  4. After the donations close I will hold a drawing and give away the following:

For Knitters, 4 prizes:

  • 2 skeins ShibuiKnits Sock in Pagoda plus a notions pouch made by me
  • 2 skeins Blue Sky Alpacas Organic Cotton in Sand plus a notions pouch made by me
  • 3 skeins Malabrigo Worsted in Emerald plus a notions pouch made by me
  • 1 skein Malabrigo Lace in Cuarzo plus a One Skein project bag made by me

For Non-Knitters (3 prizes):

  • a handknit hat and baked goods (TBD based on the winner's preferences)
  • a pair of fingerless gloves and baked goods
  • a cosmetic bag made by me and baked goods

I hope you all can help us with this new project.

Thank you for your help and consideration,

Katie & Todd