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Change does not depend on modern technology. There’s nothing modern about knitting needles – two sticks, essentially. But knitting needles lifted 45 families in Bolivia out of abject poverty.
When the rich tin mines in Bolivia closed, in the late 1980s, miners simply left in search of new jobs, abandoning their wives and children. Many of these women ended up on the streets of the city of Cochabamba. All through the Andes, women knit soft alpaca wool into sweaters and shawls.
These women had knitting skills. But no markets.
Enter a Canadian connection. Volunteers brought some of their beautiful hand-knit garments to Canada. Where Beverley Edwards-Sawatzky saw them. By organizing annual sales -- in Edmonton, Calgary, Cranbrook, and now here in Lake Country – she has been able to funnel close to $1 million to the women of the Minkha cooperative.
This is the global economy at work.
Categories: Soft Edges
Tags: knitting, Bolivia, Minkha, Edwards-Sawatzky, global economy
In case you missed it, last week was National Volunteer Week. What, nobody volunteered to tell you? I’m hardly surprised. Volunteering typically occurs in the background, unseen, unnoticed. Only aspiring politicians publicize their volunteer activities.
And yet an estimated 2.7 million Canadians contribute close to two billion hours of volunteer service every year. Without volunteers, every charity in the country would grind to a standstill. Non-profits would generate deficits. Hospitals, health clinics, airports – all use volunteers to ease your passage through their premises.
In this context, I think particularly of a volunteer who has almost singlehandedly changed the lives of 45 single-mother families in Bolivia, the poorest nation in South America.
Categories: Sharp Edges
Tags: Bolivia, Minkha, sweaters, volunteers