Thandanani Blankets

One big warm family!
Blankets arrive from England…
Kim Ward lives in Hilton, Kzn Midlands. Suzanne Le Breton is her godmother, a fairy godmother! All her life, every birthday and Christmas, brown paper parcels have arrived full of exciting English treats for Kim from her dear ‘Auntie Suzie’.

But this year a very large parcel with a difference arrived in April. Suzanne has worked as a nursing sister for the past 21 years at the Old Rectory Nursing Home, Ewhurst, Surrey. All winter, residents have knitted squares, sewing them up into brightly coloured blankets, ready just in time for winter in the southern hemisphere. These ladies (and one gentleman) belong to the ‘Knit & Natter’ group and are aged from 87 to 98 years old. Says Suzanne, who lived many years ago in South Africa, “We have a good natter while we knit and I tell them about South Africa. Giselle, a South Africian senior carer helps me and she is the one who puts all the squares together to make the blankets.” Giselle comes from Cape Town and also has family in East London.

Thandanani is a well-established Children’s Foundation that cares for orphaned and vulnerable children around Pietermaritzburg Thandanani supports children to stay in the community in families, helping with access to grants, making memory boxes (to gather important documents and photos of moms and dads who have died). Thandanani has recently launched the 4Kids initiative, a ‘virtual village’ made of ordinary people, like us, who together change the lives of children in need. Kim told Suzanne about Thandanani, and this seemed an ideal destination for the knitted blankets.

When the big box of blankets arrived, Thandanani organised a visit to the Malinga family. This family of nine live in three small wattle and daub rooms, with no piped water, and only a very little access to electricity. There are three small children under three years old and a gogo (granny) who holds the family together. A Thandanani caregiver visits the family regularly to provide whatever support she can.

What a special evening was enjoyed by all! The blankets were soon wrapped around various family members and everything suddenly became a whole lot brighter and more cosy on a chilly winter evening in Africa. This gesture of goodwill from people so far away is greatly appreciated, and the Malinga family and Thandanani send their sincere thanks. Despite great distances, and many differences, we can all be one big family!

To find our more about the Thandanani 4Kids initiative vist or write to The website provides a lot of background information as well as describes a range of options should you wish to become a virtual villager and support Thandanani. You can give a one-off donation, make a monthly stop-order, buy a school uniform, join the Thandanani birthday club…. Or just start knitting!

Thandanani blanket pic

The Malinga family with their new blankets.