Johannesburg: India will join the UK and the US to spread out thousands of blankets, knitted in memory of Nelson Mandela, in major South African cities this week as part of a global initiative to help needy and disadvantaged people.
The blankets will be distributed to charities after being spread out on Sunday (April 23) as part of the ’67 blankets for Madiba’ project initiated by South African philanthropist Carolyn Steyn in 2014.
In India, the project is being spearheaded by Rani Thomas at St Theresa’s College in Cochin.
Thomas is the proud holder of a Guinness World Record for the World’s Largest Crochet Blanket. She is also the Indian ambassador for the ’67 blankets for Madiba’.
Steyn took up the challenge of knitting 67 blankets on Nelson Mandela Day, never expecting that the project would become an international venture where 27,000 blankets were distributed to those in need.
India wrested the Guinness honour from South Africa in 2016 with a blanket measuring 17,000 square metres.
“Throughout the year people from all walks of life, including prisoners and school goers pour care and compassion into their knitting, stitching the country together one stitch at a time,” Steyn said.
“67 Blankets has changed my life and many lives. It has become my raison d’etre. What I have learned over the past three years is the importance of alliance, partnership, friendship and relationships embodying trust, respect, kindness and common purpose,” Steyn said.
“None of what we have collectively achieved would have been remotely possible without these elements. And together with our friends in countries like India we have achieved some great things, Steyn added.
On Sunday, there will be a family “Hook-Up” Day where KnitWits, as the participants who crochet the blankets are popularly known, will gather in most major South African cities at the foot of the statues of Mandela (fondly known as Madiba) to spread out the blankets they have knitted before they will be handed out to charities ahead of the harsh South African winter.
In the UK, the event will take place at the bust of Nelson Mandela near the Royal Festival Hall in London, while the events in the US will take place in the states of California, Maine and Maryland.