The total and why we p/hop

If you glance to your right and take a look at our Just Giving Widget you will see that we, that’s me and you and all the fibre-fans who have contributed to p/hop, have raised over £33,000 for Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF). This is fantastic. We’re still a way off from reaching our target for this year of £40,ooo, but we’re getting closer.

At the moment MSF staff are working flat out in South Sudan, with 15,000 people who are struggling to survive without fresh water. This shocking situation has not reached our mainstream media but you can help spread the word. This video with MSF doctor Erna is on Vimeo and the news story is here.

If you are unable to watch the video here’s part of what Erna says:

We went early on Tuesday morning to provide medical assistance and rehydration points along the route,” says Doctor Erna Rijnierse, MSF’s medical team leader.

“It was a truly shocking sight as we witnessed some of the weakest dying as they walked – too dehydrated for even the most urgent medical care to save them.”

She adds: “The scale of what is happening here is shocking, even for experienced emergency team members who have seen a lot.

While you may be feeling helpless you can make a difference. Share the news of what is happening to people in South Sudan, tell your friends, tweet about it, share the video on facebook. As always, your donations through p/hop go straight to MSF’s work, where it is needed, whether or not it is on the news.

Thank you.

Why we p/hop! MSF on Newsnight

If you visit Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF)’s website you’ll see lots of reasons why we p/hop.

There’s an opportunity to gain more insight into MSF’s lifesaving work and humanitarian principles for those of you who have access to BBC2, on Newsnight, starting at 10:30pm (GMT +1) tonight.

The feature is about MSF’s work in a hospital in Jordan where doctors are performing complex surgery unavailable anywhere else in the Middle East on victims of terror and violence from across the region. You can read more about it on the BBC website.

Khitam (on the right) was playing in her garden in Falluja when she was caught in an explosion aimed at US troops. She, like Hussein, is awaiting skin grafts. (Photograph from BBC website)

And while you’re watching I hope you think to yourself, “I helped do this.”

Happy Mother’s Day

We’ve already had a great response to our request for baby and children’s knitted hats to send to MSF’s clinic in Qetta, Pakistan.

Check out our lovely Ravelry group who are busy knitting away, sharing hat patterns and tips.

p/hop supporter Nic has written a beautiful blog post about why she is taking part.

One thousand women a day die during childbirth

MSF have released a new report on the tragic numbers of women who die during pregnancy and childbirth, the majority from preventable and treatable conditions.

You can read more about this and the work MSF are doing to improve obstetric care for women over on the MSF UK website.

Life-saving p/hoppers

Our knitted hats will help babies in one MSF clinic, but the money you donate to MSF also keeps new mums and their babies alive.

p/hoppers, we thank you for you life saving donations.

This story from new mum Laura in Haiti is a great example of the difference we are making to women and their children around the world.

Charity engine

Charity engine? A locomotive for fund-raising? Something about a car?

Even better than that! Charity Engine is a very easy way to help MSF raise money.

Computers are a bit like human brains, in that most of the time not all of the processing power of your PC or Mac is being used. Charity Engine is a nifty way of donating that spare processing power to MSF.

It won’t affect the way your computer works but it will help MSF supply more vaccines, doctors, you know good, life-saving things to people who need them.

p/hop changes the world one stitch at a time, Charity Engine are changing the world “one bit at a time”.

There are more details on the MSF website.

Join now

If you want to get cracking go directly to Charity Engine’s website and remember to include “MSF” in the invite code field on the form.

Sad news

Two MSF staff members were killed in Somalia yesterday. This is shocking and very sad news.

Philippe Havet, a 53-year-old from Belgium, was an experienced emergency coordinator who had been working with MSF since 2000 in many countries, including Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia, Lebanon, Sierra Leone, South Africa and Somalia.

Andrias Karel Keiluhu, better known as ‘Kace’, was a 44-year-old medical doctor who had worked with MSF since 1998 in his native Indonesia as well as in Ethiopia, Thailand and Somalia.

There are further details on the MSF website.

Philippe Havet (right) and Andrias Karel Keiluhu, better known as ‘Kace’ (left). © MSF

My thoughts, sympathy and love go to their families and friends, those affected by the incident, as well as the people of Somalia.

One of the reasons I support MSF is their commitment to the people who need health care, even in the worst situations.

This tweet from @msf_field sums it up for me;

Even in times of personal grief and hurt, MSF are planning how to continue to help the people of Somalia.

This is why I p/hop.

MSF Delivers – Delivered

MSF’s new arrival is here. It’s a bouncing bundle of joy and an inspiring campaign to highlight the work British field volunteers do with MSF. MSF Delivers focuses on midwife Sam Perkins who spent 9 months working in a MSF maternity unit in Masisi, a war torn area of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

From Thursday 22nd til Tuesday 27th September you can see the incredible 3D photo-film MSF put together with film-makers duckrabbit to tell the story of Sam’s work. A 3D photo-film I hear you cry! What is that?

MSF often use photo films to show the work they achieve. Sometimes the stillness of an image can say more than an action packed film shot.  In practical terms video cameras are often cumbersome and guzzle energy which can be a problem in remote areas so photo cameras can be more accessible. 3D photography is an emerging technique and once the images are edited together it can create a compelling new medium. Pete and I went to the launch of the film last night where we donned futuristic specs to watch the film.

The film is excellent and inspiring. Seeing the determination of Sam, her team, and the women who use the clinic – often cross dangerous front lines on foot while in labour – made me very proud to play my small role in fund-raising for MSF.  I hope it will do the same for you too.

The 3D film is on in Spitafields Market in London from 10am til 6pm,  Thursday 22nd til Tuesday 27th September and only takes 6 minutes to watch so you can easily fit it into a lunch break or sightseeing at the weekend.

If you can’t make it to London there are several insightful short films about Sam’s work and the lives of women in Masisi on  the MSF Delivers website which is well worth a look.

I was in the MSF office when MSF Delivers was being put together. Imagine my delight when I was shown this:

Credit to Yasuyoshi Chiba

Part of the work the clinic in Masisi does  is identifying at risk pregnancies such as breech birth and twins. Women who are found to be at risk of a complicated delivery are invited to live at the clinic from their 8th month of pregnancy onwards so help will be immediately available when they go into labour. While they are at the clinic they are offered health education covering labour, birth control, disease prevention and other skills, and they are also taught how to knit!

copyright Yasuyoshi Chiba

Photo by Yasuyoshi Chiba

As we all know knitting has great benefits. In Masisi, the women make clothes for their new babies and it also helps pass the time in the build up to the birth date. If you’ve been pregnant, or have followed friend’s pregnancies, you’ll remember how tense the waiting can be. I’m hoping to find more about these knitters and their teacher and we will have more images to share with you very soon.

I like Sam’s quote from the MSF Delivers website about child birth:

The pain, anticipation, exhaustion, fear and excitement are the same for all women – whether in Northampton or Nairobi. What isn’t is access to trained medical staff, care, surgical interventions, drugs and materials.”

While knitting usually isn’t as life changing as childbirth there is that connection between all of us. The casting on, the marvelling at producing your first few rows of garter stitch, the magic of wielding sticks to change string into fabric.

copyright Yasuyoshi Chiba

Familiar look of concentration Photo by Yasuyoshi Chiba

We are all knitters. Sadly not all of us have access to basic necessities. This is why I support MSF.

If you feel inspired by this please do spread the work about MSF Delivers.  I don’t have midwifery skills but if I pass on the message to my friends and family that will be a few more people helping to support people like Sam.

MSF Delivers

MSF are launching an exciting new campaign next week which focuses on childbirth, called MSF Delivers. See what they did there, clever isn’t it!

To launch MSF Delivers MSF have made a superb 3D photofilm following MSF midwife Sam and her work in Congo. I’ve seen a preview without the 3D and it is excellent. You are all invited to view the film from 22nd – 27th September, 3d specs included, at Spitafields market, where it will be showing from 9am til 7pm everyday. The film lasts 6 minutes so if you are in the area it is easy to pop in and watch an incredible story unfold in  a lunchbreak or after work.

If you can’t make it to London there will be plenty of information on the MSF Delivers website which is coming soon.

We have some tie ins with p/hop coming next week to coincide with the launch of MSF Delivers. Watch this space…

Raising the Knit Signal

We don’t normaly do what I am about to do at p/hop. We are a steady fundraiser for Médecins Sans Frontières meaning there’s money in the pot as and when it is needed. Our blog is usually about knitting and how we, the knitting community,  raise money and awareness for MSF.  However the dreadful situation facing hundreds of thousands of people, ordinary people, trying to live their lives and raise their children in Somalia, is dire.

You can read more about it on the MSF website, or see it on the news (when they are reporting on more than the immoral behaviour of a newspaper) but here is a summary.

  • As prolonged drought grips Somalia, people are losing their livestock, homes and lives. Poor harvests, rising food prices, continuing violence and chronic poverty have further contributed to a sudden rise in malnutrition rates.
  • Almost one in three children is suffering from severe malnutrition
  • The security situation in Somalia is complicated, but because MSF is an impartial medical organisation and relies on charitable donations instead of government funding, it continues to be the only medical charity working in many areas.
  • There are hundreds of children and adults arriving at MSF clinics every day. Many of them need expert medical care for malnutrition, often whilst battling other severe conditions such as malaria and pneumonia.


The knit signal needs raising. The word needs spreading. We need to donate!


Donating through our usual sites takes about a week to get to MSF. If you donate through the Somalia appeal it takes two days.

I know times are tough for a lot of us at the moment, however even the smallest donation will make a difference and enable MSF to continue their excellent and life-saving work.

And if you quite rightly found the picture of Asad at the top of the blog post distressing you can see how he is after treatment by MSF on the MSF website here.

Thank you for reading this.


If you can get Current TV (Sky 183 or Virgin 155) it’s worth watching the documentary about MSF called Doctors Without Borders – Medicine on the Edge.

The first episode was aired last night but is repeated at the following times:

Tues 25th May – 9pm
Sun 29th May -10pm
Mon 30th May -9pm

Part two is on Mon 30th May at 10pm

“Curious to see what kinds of people volunteer to work in some of the poorest and most dangerous places in the world, Current TV spent four months in the Democratic Republic of Congo following the lives and work of medical aid workers from Doctors Without Borders. ”

There’s a preview of it and more info here.

It’s good to see our fundraising money in action.

Image from Current TV

Why p/hop in 2011?

Happy New Year Everyone. Before we launch headlong into 2011 I’m going to take a few moments to look back over 2010. What a year it was, we were here there and everywhere meeting hundreds, if not thousands of friendly and generous knitter, but you know all that (well you do if you read the blog). One of the things I love about p/hop is when people are inspired to make a difference and raise money which will enable MSF to provide vaccines, midwives, nutrition and other life saving care to people who desperately need it.

Take for example IsobelM who asked for a collecting tin and some info on p/hop and MSF to add to a display on knitting in her local library in the Isle of Man.  Or Shelia who always makes a donation through Just Giving whenever there is a birthday in the family, remembering those who have very little in life at times of personal celebration. Or Rhoda who knitted tea cosies to sell for MSF at a local craft cafe and gallery. Or the anonymous knitter who donates for a pattern.  Or Rooknits and Picperfic who coordinated the 2010 raffle blankets and all the individuals who donated their knitting time to make squares to create beautiful throws. All these acts of kindness make a huge difference.

Jacqui, modelling her Flowers in the Rain design at Woolfest in July

You’ve helped Dr Ekdahl deliver two healthy babies to Haseena and Jamila in flood striken Pakistan.You’ve helped prevent, control and treat cholera outbreaks in Haiti. You’ve helped vaccinate thousands of vulnerable people in Niger against meningitis. You’ve helped raise nearly £22,000, over US$4000 and 1,500 Euro for MSF since p/hop started.

Good eh? If you helped p/hop raise money for MSF, in any way, no matter how small, in 2010 give yourself a pat on the back, a nice cup of tea,some knitting time, and start thinking about what we can do in 2011.

Photo from MSF UK

Thank you.

Added at 10pm: After I wrote this the UK fund raising total went over £22,000! What a brilliant start to 2011. Don’t forget you can also donate in US dollars, Euros or make a donation in your local currency to your country’s MSF office.