The Knit Wits of Krochet Kids
Crocheting is for old people? Don’t tell that to the Krochet Kids.
Of course, KKI is not a panacea for all the problems experienced by the women in the program, who still face challenging, unstable lives. Some are young adult orphans or affected by HIV/AIDS, and others have been rejected by their own people, on account of being abducted by Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army, a guerrilla group that has been known to kidnap women and keep them as sex slaves. “There is an entire population of women [in Uganda] that can’t find work because people don’t want to employ them,” emphasizes Ramsey, indicating how difficult it is for abductees to re-enter Acholi society.
Beyond providing a marketable skill, a reliable salary and a sense of community, KKI also works towards making the women self-sufficient by sponsoring a financial education program that teaches them how to save and manage a budget. “The idea is for each woman to develop the capacity to pull herself and her family out of their current situation,” says Ramsey, who sums up the goal of KKI in one word—empowerment. “Someday, we want them to say, ‘I can’t work for you any more because I can make more money doing something else,’” a development that would open the door for KKI to hire new applicants.
Meanwhile, the founders of KKI say developing a non-profit venture in Uganda has been a “humbling experience,” noting that the greatest challenge of working in Gulu has been trying to look at the world from the same perspective as the Acholi people. “We can’t take an American view of how to get things done. To make things work over there we have to become students of Uganda, the people, and their culture,” stresses Crecelius.
In the future, KKI hopes to take the lessons learned in Uganda and apply them elsewhere by launching additional programs in other parts of the world—with locations in India and South America the most likely possibilities. They also plan to expand their product line to include iPod cases, laptop cases, bags and purses. “Kohl got married this past summer and all the groomsmen had crocheted ties on—the first time we crocheted any ties,” informs Ramsey, hinting at another future addition to the lineup.
Yet, no matter how far and wide KKI expands, Ramsey figures some observers will never get over the fact that the organization is led by three adventurous guys that don’t personify the stereotypical crochet enthusiast. “We get questioning looks at first, but we always get a positive response,” he says. “Especially from grandmothers.”