Elaine and two of the other knitters
Linda Stocker with a woman with leprosy
C.E.F. sponsors fourteen young people from the leprosy village of Hoa Van, so that they can continue their education in the city of Da Nang. Their parents or grandparents have been victims of Hansen’s disease and thus they have lived in isolation and poverty, but this young generation carry the hope of a better life, free of this harrowing disease which can be controlled with drugs and through greater opportunities which their education will provide.
But the pain and suffering of their elders persists. Untreated leprosy has left many with deformities and lost digits and limbs. These stumps are vulnerable to infection as there is little sensitivity to pain or discomfort.
A group of women on Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada, with compassionate hearts and knitting needles are alleviating some of this pain. They are producing hand knit, 100% mercerized cotton bandages, which can be wound around the leper's limbs to protect them from injury; can provide a cushion for an ill fitting prosthesis or even protect an open tropical sore. The bandages are washable, reusable and can be sterilized for repeated use.
These women are part of a worldwide knitting circle organized and managed by an energetic woman, Linda Stocker of Ariel, Washington. Linda and her husband, a US Army veteran travelled to Vietnam on a tour of reconciliation and peace, returning home determined to alleviate some of the pain that they had witnessed. Her friend, Elaine Head, who lives on Salt Spring Island is also a friend of C.E.F; the wife of a US Army veteran and a volunteer in Hoi An, from where ,some years ago she ventured to the village of Hoa Van. When I told Elaine that the headman of the village thought that the bandages would be desirable, she immediately contacted Linda Stocker and our first shipment arrived.
This year we are getting a “special delivery!” A group travelling from Salt Spring to Vietnam will deliver the second batch of bandages in January 2012.
“The knitting is a kind of meditation”, said Elaine. “With each stitch we think about the comfort that our bandage will provide to someone a world away. Our hands can be busy while we watch TV, wait in doctors’ offices or ride the ferry to and from the island.”
The fourteen knitters on Salt Spring have been knitting less than a year and have produced more than 100 bandages.
We are so grateful that the next shipment will come directly to our village of Hoa Van, carried by friends of the women who have produced them.