Knitting interrupted


So, sometimes at MSF, something comes along and takes your week apart. This happens fairly regularly, to a greater and lesser extent. This week that has happened and it has been cholera in Haiti that we have been working flat out on…..

A relative holds a child's hand who is suffering from symptoms of cholera at a Haitian government hospital where MSF is treating people. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The situation in Haiti is dire enough that we have launched an appeal from the London office to ask for funds specifically to help us up our game there. More than one thousand staff are working round the clock to treat the thousands of patients we are seeing and to build cholera treatment centres so we have somewhere to treat them and providing safe water to communities and community education and and and…..

There is no doubt in my mind that this work merits a donation from me, from you, from anyone…. But…

But, one of the things that makes MSF special for me is the fact that we don’t often ask for money for specific projects – only when we need to act fast and on a very large scale. And why? Because we prefer to have a fund of money that we can use wherever we see fit – wherever the needs are greatest. Basically, we ask our supporters to trust us.

I was a fundraiser before I worked at MSF and was an MSF supporter before I was MSF staff and one of my proudest moments as a supporter was following the tsunami in early 2005. MSF ran an appeal for funds, to which I donated. Then, once they realised they could not spend it in a meaningful way, that they had done what they could, they offered to give it back. As a fundraiser, this seemed crazy, but as a supporter, it confirmed in my mind that I had made the right choice with my donation.

P/hop is based on an honesty box, and on trust, and this is one of the reasons it fits so well with MSF. The money that knitters raise through this weird and wonderful knitting project goes directly to MSF’s general fund. You are trusting us to spend it where the needs are greatest.

I think a donation to the Haiti appeal is a donation well made, but you guys should be proud that your donations are already at work battling cholera in Chad, malaria in Niger, treating victims of a cyclone in Myanmar, helping victims of domestic and sexual abuse in Papua New Guinea and doing life-saving work in another fifty odd countries.

By the way, this work has interrupted my knitting, but, before you say anything, this post is not an over elaborate excuse for not having done my rows….

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