If you’ve ever received a handmade sweater on Christmas from Grandma, you know how much octogenarians love to crochet.
Well, believe it or not, crocheting can be more than just entertainment for the elderly (or the crafty Pinterest fiend). Thanks to Krochet Kids International, now grandma’s favorite past time is improving the lives of women in northern Uganda and Peru by offering them hope and opportunities for self-empowerment.
That’s right, crocheting.
Krochet Kids International began as three high school friends, Kohl, Travis and Stewart, in Spokane, Washington, who enjoyed crocheting. In Kohl’s words “though it was not a normal hobby for high school guys, we reveled in the novelty of it”. A local paper nicknamed them the Krochet Kids and the name stuck.
In college Stewart spent a summer in Uganda where he encountered whole communities of people who’d been living in government camps for 20 years after the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) ravaged much of the northern half of the country. Opportunities to make a living or improve their lives were nonexistent and most were trapped in dependence on the government camps and aid. After Stewarts returned, the three realized the difference they could make by teaching women in Uganda their beloved hobby. With this skill and the products they would create, they could lift themselves out of poverty and provide for their families.
To date, over 150 women in Uganda and Peru are Krochet Kids and are receiving ongoing support, education, and mentorship. Apiyo Kevin is one such woman. When asked what her favorite thing about crocheting is she replied, “crocheting has greatly helped me to forget my husband’s death. Besides, it has provided me with an employment opportunity that has drastically improved my income.”
Each of Krochet Kids’ colorful beanies and scarves has a small tag bearing the name, scrawled in blue ink, of the Ugandan woman who made it.
Fore these women, crocheting isn’t simply a hobby. It provides them with the self-confidence that comes with learning a new skill, an opportunity to heal, and most importantly, an income.
Because three high school friends decided they wanted to make a difference in the world around them, women in Uganda and Peru and consequently those who depend on them, are beginning to lead better, more fulfilled lives.
– Erin Ponsonby