Bev Edwards-Sawatzky

Bev Edwards-Sawatzky

Sweaters mix fashion and fundraising

The Minkha Sweater Open House variety of clothing items, hand knit by Bolivian women who receive all the profits.

The Minkha Hand-knit Bolivian Sweater Sale returns Saturday with a variety of garments which directly benefit women in Bolivia and their families.

“These women were brought together by Save the Children Canada as they and their children were living in very precarious conditions. They have now established a cooperative and have developed an amazingly high level of knitting expertise,” said Bev Edwards-Sawatzky, one of the volunteers who organizes the sales, which also take place in Edmonton twice a year.

“People have seen people wearing the sweaters and asked where they got them and wanted another sale so we have organized it. All the money raised goes directly to the women. The project has been going for 20 years now and the children have been able to go to school. Two years ago, the first doctor graduated. One young woman has become a dentist and several are studying to be teachers. The children see their mothers working together, creating their own micro business and the children know that anything is possible for them to aspire to.”

The knitters are delighted with how the cooperative has changed their lives.

“We are really happy because all my family and I can buy the things for us. For example, food for my two children and materials for school. I could start building my house. I know it is very small but it is something better than nothing,” said Yola Nina Leon, a knitter in the cooperative, while Alcida Callejas Quevedo, president of the cooperative said, “We are very thankful for the volunteers in Canada. Without their help, we couldn’t improve our situation.”

The sweaters, vests, scarves, hats and ponchos for women, men and children are made of alpaca wool and pima cotton in traditional and contemporary designs. British designer Kaffe Fasset has given permission for some of his knitting designs to be used.

The sale takes place Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Winfield United Church. For more information or to place custom orders, see www.minkhasweaters.com.