> To Knit is Divine: Meeting knitters in the most unlikely of places

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Meeting knitters in the most unlikely of places

I decided when I started this blog that it would be primarily about knitting, and that I would not talk about my work. Although I have a great job that I love, blogging is personal time, not work time! I thought that keeping my work world and my knitting world separate was the best thing for me to do.

So then what to do when those two world firmly collide, which is what happened last week? In order to talk about one, it is necessary that I share a bit about the other.

I work in the field of international development, and I am currently in Mozambique visiting a number of projects. One of the projects is working simultaneously on issues of Sustainable Livelihoods, HIV/AIDS and Gender Equality. The project is being implemented by Oxfam Canada, who are working with 5 Mozambican organizations, each with a specialization in one of these issues. Some of the project partners work at the national level, and some work at the community level. All are doing incredibly important, wonderful work.

During the first week of my stay here, I went to Manica province to visit some of the on-the-ground work being done by two of these project partners. We flew to Chimoio (located in the central part of the country, near the Zimbabwe border) and then drove several hours north. We visited the two most northern districts of the province, bordering the Zambezi River.

One of the project partners has trained sex workers as HIV/AIDS activitists. Now, when I say "sex workers" please don't think of your stereotypical prostitute working the city streets for drug money. Instead, think desperately poor rural womem with little or no education or opportunities, struggling for basic survival for themselves and their children. Some of these communities are on trucking routes, and sex in exchange for money is often the only source of income these women have. It is also extremely risky, as HIV/AIDs rates in these areas are extremely high.

Don't fret - I'm about to get to the knitting part!

The activitists go out into the communities, and using songs, dances, skits and discussion, educate the communities about HIV/AIDS. We went to visit them at work in one of these communities. After chatting with the activists for a while about their work (very inspiring, I might add), we went to where the community had gathered for the presentation.

Lo and behold, among the community members was a woman knitting! Of course, I spotted her right away. Two or three other members of our group pointed her out to me as well, as of course, I had been knitting on the plane and in the car the whole way, so everone knew I was a knitter! She had a baby in her arms, and a toddler at her feet, and she was knitting
away while watching the presentation

I had never seen anyone in Mozambique knitting before (and I have been to lots of rural communities over the past few years). I was so excited. Once the presentation was over, I went up to talk to her (through a translator). Apparently, she had learned years ago from a missionary. It is not easy to find yarn where she is, so she recycles yarn from discarded sweaters and uses that yarn to make things for her babies.

We didn't have long to chat, but when I told her that I also knit, we had an instant connection to each other, although our lives are worlds apart.

When we flew back to Maputo (the capital), one of my colleagues told me at the airport that he had been sitting next to an Australian woman who was knitting as well. He introduced me to her as we awaited our luggage, and we chatted about knitting for a few minutes.

Such a bond we have, we knitters of the world.


Anonymous kathy in juneau said...

What a lovely Tale of Two Knitters, and beautiful photos!

2:04 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

Wow! Now that is the coolest thing I have seen in a long time. How I wish I could send that woman some yarn!!

3:27 PM  
Blogger Lynette said...

what a great story! thanks for sharing. i wish i could send her yarn also.

9:43 AM  
Anonymous Ellen said...

What a great post! Thanks for sharing your experiences.

10:24 AM  

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