The grandma using knitting to protect kids from violence


Connie Abrahams hasn’t got much, but for two sure things: the skill of knitting and the wealth of accumulated wisdom that comes with being a grandmother. She has lived in the same community for most of her life, and during that time a sad narrative has recycled itself in front of her. The streets are swallowing children. And Abrahams has seen enough. Armed with nothing more than rolls of wool and her needles, she’s using knitting to create a way out for South Africa’s future.

Although she despises the debilitating effect that gangsterism has on her community, Abrahams understands the allure of street life for young people. Paradoxically, these violent organisations provide a sense of belonging. So the only way to curtail recruitment is to offer an alternate space for community to grow. This belief is the core of The Young Knitters Club, where Abrahams teaches kids the skill of knitting and offers a stable platform for them to develop healthy relationships with one another.

At this formative stage in their lives they are also taught the value of giving and living for others, as the woollen garments they make are distributed to babies and the elderly. And like any healthy community the young knitters are growing in number. Having started with a group of ten, the project has seen Abrahams mentor over 80 boys and girls. As a result, South Africa’s next generation of leaders are equipped to teach others the value of taking a soft approach to the hardness of life.