Hens for Hamlin

Two women knitting. Sixteen life-changing surgeries. 

Since 2014, Denise and Thelma have knitted an array of items – from chickens to children’s socks – to raise money for the Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation. What started with Denise selling a handful of papier-mâché chickens has now turned into a whole online community. Denise sells her items on her Facebook page, where you will also see a knitted chicken or two roaming around her garden.

After almost four years of knitting, Denise and Thelma have just reached their goal of $10,000! An incredible achievement. With the support of their community, they have raised enough money to provide 16 women with life-changing surgery to repair their fistula injuries. In her own words, Denise tells us her story:

The Idea

In August 2014, to celebrate my 60th birthday, I aimed to raise $600 for one surgical fistula procedure. I had read about the wonderful work of Drs Reg and Catherine Hamlin and thought this could be a meaningful way to celebrate my 60 years.

Since then I have been overwhelmed by the generosity of friends, family and people I have never met who continue to support my mother and I with our fundraising efforts. It’s also really nice knowing that our fundraising events bring fun and joy to others.

Our fundraising project was inspired by my five gorgeous pet chickens who brought so much joy to our lives and is where our fundraising project name ‘Gorgeous Girls’ comes from.

Initially, I held a silent auction of papier-mâché chickens. Then my mother, Thelma and I decided to knit a series of tea cosies. From here, Thelma started to knit bunnies and I held an Easter Garden Party to auction the bunnies. We aimed to knit and decorate 60 bunnies and ask for a $10 donation for each. Our aim was $600.

One thing led to another and the Facebook page called ‘Gorgeous Girls Virtual Garden Party’ began. The bunnies were an instant hit. Donations ranged from $10 upwards. It was such a thrill to see these tiny bunnies bring joy to the lives of people and also raise money towards our goal.

We regularly have hand knitted chickens, children’s “rubber boot socks”, tea cosies and various other items posted on the Gorgeous Girls Virtual Garden Party page. Each item has a requested minimum donation and is quickly snapped up.

I am so pleased to see membership growing through word of mouth recommendations and I am so thrilled with the generosity of the donors.

The instant acknowledgement of the tax deductible receipt, knowing that 100% of their money is going to this fabulous cause makes the difference.

Nearly four years later, we are nearing the conclusion of our fundraising. Thelma’s eyesight no longer enables her to do the intricate knitting that she loves to do. I am moving away from using social media and will wind up the Facebook page soon.

Author: Denise Pratt, Hamlin Champion

Thank you so much to Denise and Thelma for all your hard work and congratulations on reaching your goal! Your Gorgeous Girls are not only putting a smile on the faces of those who buy them, but also changing the lives of women suffering with a fistula.

This is such a unique way to get Hands on for Hamlin, and as we say  – if it works for you, it works for us! Who would have thought that knitted chickens could raise so much money?

For more ideas about how you can get Hands on for Hamlin or to kickstart your own idea, join our Facebook group here.

A few years ago we used to ask supporters to send blankets for patients to us here in Sydney, then we would ship them in bulk to Ethiopia, but we now have an oversupply and given the postage is prohibitively expensive, we no longer do this.
Blankets are still distributed to patients in Addis Ababa and our regional hospitals, but the Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation isn’t currently accepting them. For this reason, we’d like to encourage those who love knitting and creating like Denise, to use their skills and engage their communities with auctions, craft sales and other ways.

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