The Knit Wits of Krochet Kids
Crocheting is for old people? Don’t tell that to the Krochet Kids.
Back in Uganda, Krochet Kids discovered that the mostly illiterate women—all from the Acholi tribe, an ethnic group that inhabits the northern part of the country—were highly motivated, focused, eager to work, and exceptionally fast learners, often producing sale-quality merchandise after only a single day’s training. The experiment motivated the trio to formalize their commitment, and they soon incorporated KKI, enlisting the help of nine friends—Adam and Stephen Thomson, Leah and Mike Hartanov, Ross Nelson, Brad Holdfrafer, Nic Lauten, Ryan Motley and Ryan Thomas—who pledged to help raise money and make their dream a reality.
Then, with the help of a local non-profit organization and a translator who spoke both English and Luo (the Acholi language) they interviewed 25 women for the ten spots available in their program, hoping to identify individuals who had both the greatest potential and the greatest need. “We were looking for women who had the capacity to crochet and wanted to succeed, but we also made the decision on who to hire based on number of dependents. We wanted to know how many lives we could affect by employing one person,” advises Ramsey.
After choosing ten women, Krochet Kids set up home base in Gulu, a commercial center located 200 miles north of the capital of Kampala. There the organization built shipping and receiving facilities and living quarters for guests, as well as a large traditional hut with a thatched roof where “we all sit and crochet and hang out,” relates Crecelius.
In effect, the facility now doubles as an office space and community center. The women crochet 25 hours per week and together produce 400-600 hats per month, which are sold at KKI’s online store and at select coffee shops in the U.S.
In exchange, the women earn a salary roughly equivalent to a teacher’s salary in Uganda (200,000 shillings per month), at least six times what they might earn crushing rock or selling mangoes. The women also enjoy the camaraderie and support of their peers, not to mention the company of the young Americans, who are a source of much amusement, particularly when the guys mangle the Luo language. “We try to pronounce something and they all laugh and correct us, which is super-fun,” quips Ramsey, making clear that it isn’t always enjoyable to be the butt of the ladies’ jokes.