Dr. Moshi teaching crochet to one of the orphans

Back in Moshi on July 8th, the teachers went to teach at the primary school while I went with Dr. Moshi and Sgt. Haynes to Msamaria (Samaritan) orphanage.  Schools were starting up again and the kids who had gone to visit their extended families were beginning to return.  I carried the hooks, books, and yarn that I had saved for them, looking forward to working with a smaller group of older kids.

Only one of the girls was there, but the matron and four boys were willing to join us.  They picked up the chains more easily than some of my American colleagues have, and we moved on to single crochet and double crochet.  By the end of two hours, I was teaching the matron and two of the older boys how to do granny squares.  Little Gilbert wasn’t too interested in learning crochet, but he thought my giant hook was cool. He also had some fun taking close-ups of the others’ faces and elbows with my camera and flirting with one of the young American volunteers.

Gilbert feigns interest in crochet

Next time I will:

  • Try to organise multiple sessions with the same group.  Some of these kids have gotten off to a good start.  Once they try on their own they can come back with questions and be ready for the next step.  The kids in Arusha have the benefit of having proficient crocheters among their teachers.  The Msamaria kids may need a couple more visits.
  • Bring patterns with stitch diagrams.  Thank goodness for designers like Robyn Chachula who are promoting the use of visual schematics for crochet.  I know I sometimes get lost in the text of crochet patterns.  I can’t imagine trying to use them as a new crocheter with English as my third language.
  • Bring kits with a specific project in mind.  I left a collection of books and individual patterns and random yarn, but it’s helpful for beginners to have everything they need in one neat little package.  Start with a hat or scarf and move up to sweaters and afghans.  Or start with a school project to make a patchwork afghan.
  • Bring more patterns for male fashion.  I’m a woman, so most of my patterns are for things I want to make for myself or for my sisters.  I’ve found some gifted crocheters among the boys, and I want to encourage them in the craft.  I’ll bring some books by The Crochet Dude and others who have designed for men.