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Carolanne Paynter, standing far right, and some of the Crafty Tarts survey their knitwear

Crafty knitwear to keep Congolese babies warm

May 1st, 2017
[by David Armstrong]

Scores more Congolese babies will arrive into the world warm and dry, thanks to work done over the past year by Motueka's Crafty Tarts and their friends.

On Monday Carolanne Paynter picked up a load of more than 150 items of clothing knitted for newborn children, which she and her husband Geoff will take on their upcoming trip to the Congo.

Carolanne explained that while the Democratic Republic of the Congo is normally thought of as a hot place, during the dry season it can be quite chilly.

In such a poor country, many babies had nothing more than some old cloth or cheap and oversized cotton clothes to keep them warm.

For most of them, the donated knitwear, including booties, hats and tops, are the warmest clothes they'll get.

"So many of them are born underweight and into a cold environment. These clothes give them a good start and reduce the incidence of respiratory diseases," Carolanne said.

"The Congolese women love them and are so appreciative, especially of the great quality of the items they are given."

Geoff and Carolanne, who are working with the Tasman Bible Church, have been going to the Congo for four years, working with indigenous NGOs.

The group they have worked with most is called Mission Garengazne, which Carolanne said is like the Salvation Army here, running churches as well as doing humanitarian work.

The clothing made by the Crafty Tarts and their friends over the past year will be going into two hospitals. It is their second year of making and donating knitwear, and Carolanne is absolutely thrilled with the hugely increased number of items that have been turned out this year.

Mission Garengazne runs 10 hospitals and until Geoff's visit last year none had any electricity. Geoff installed a solar energy system into a training hospital, which enabled them to have light and in particular refrigeration.

The refrigeration enabled them to store blood and locally made saline solutions. Following the installation, an epidemic of cholera hit the area, which normally would kill 50 to 60% of those contracting it. With the saline available, only four died out of 175 cases.

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