News Release

Hobart Women Served by Knitting for Others


Fifteen years ago, women from Hobart, Tasmania, started knitting cotton bandages for leprosy patients in a Catholic hospital in Niger, Africa – and they’ve been knitting ever since.

It is estimated that the women, members of the Hobart Stake (diocese) of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have knitted and sent more than 3000 bandages to the hospital.

It all started when school teacher Lynda Vertigan, from the Rosny Ward (congregation), joined a co-worker who was knitting bandages for a leprosy colony in Africa. They made so many that it was suggested Lynda start another knitting group and make them for the hospital that they currently knit for. Lynda invited other women to be involved and many were grateful for the opportunity to help.

“We started knitting, not knowing when this opportunity would end – no-one has told us to stop, so we happily keep on,” said Lynda. “Over the years I’ve received letters from the hospital telling us how much they appreciate them and need them, as they can’t afford disposable bandages. We always use 100 per cent cotton yarn for the bandages which the staff boil and re-use.”

“The hospital has concerns that we cannot resolve, but they do need bandages and we can knit! We knit them with love and gratitude that we can.”     

And that’s not the only benefit. “It took me a while to realise that while the bandages are useful for others, we also need to serve by knitting the bandages. Some of the knitters are unable to help in traditional ways and this has been a valuable and unique opportunity for them to contribute,” she adds.

“I can’t just sit and do nothing. This project is great for me,” said Yvonne Watson from Rosny Ward, who also knits pouches for joeys for a Tasmanian wildlife sanctuary.

“You just do it without a fuss,” says Diana Chick.

Betty Wall, who has knit over 100 bandages comments, “It was something I could do - something that was going to benefit someone. It was useful."

Betty emphasised how this project matched her needs – she wanted to serve others, but wasn’t very mobile. Her husband cut the needles to reduce the weight for her hands so she could knit without her arms tiring. She would knit while waiting for doctor appointments or sitting with her husband in hospital.

"Service doesn't need to be big and grandiose to be meaningful and make a difference." said Cheryl A. Esplin, former member of the Church's General Primary (children's organisation) Presidency. Surely the service of the Hobart women is making an important difference in NIger, Africa.

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