How you can help

We would like your help...

Patients at State hospitals and clinics in South Africa are typically destitute, malnourished, as well as being very sick or injured. Many are jobless, many are homeless, and many have no loved-ones to provide the basic needs for them in hospital.

The Ruth Mailbag Group strives to provide for the needs of destitute moms and babies in the maternity and NICU of our local state hospital and several other hospitals in our country who have asked for our help by providing them with a basic baby pack for their new and or sick babies.

If you can assist please get in touch with us through or visit our blog at for more information.

Yours sincerely,
Joy Coetzee
Founder – The Ruth Mailbag Group

Or a hospital near you... please, browse through the following list, I’m sure you will find a government hospital near you to support:
Contact Details of Public Hospitals in South Africa -
Eastern Cape -
Gauteng Province -
Johannesburg -
KZN -;
Port Elizabeth -
Western Cape -

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Newsletter 2 of 2014

THE RUTH MAILBAG GROUP: Newsletter 2 of 2014


Greetings to everyone reading this newsletter.  I hope that you are enjoying knit and/or crochet projects that will comfort hospital babies and others in need or an expression of caring.  Thank you for all that you do.

I am always concerned when I learn that a hospital stops accepting donated items, or will not allow our members to gift the mothers and babies at their hospital.  Obviously, hospitals are very concerned about their liability when distributing donated items to patients.  You cannot sterilize all that you donate, but you do need to be careful that your donated items are clean, free of dust and cat/dog fur, and free of cigarette smoke.  And as much as I love my cat, animal hair is NOT something that we want to have on anything donated to a NICU or other hospital department.  It may be necessary to wash finished items and roll with a lint roller before delivery.  Also, be very careful to remove all straight pins from finished projects.  Use safety pins or yarn to attach labels, NOT straight pins!

I enjoy sharing photos and reports with you, photos of newborns, their moms and photos of finished items that are ready for delivery.  Thank you for sending photos of your work etc you will find these photos on our facebook page for all our members to enjoy.

Please remember that The Ruth Mailbag Group has no secretary or any hired staff.  If I don’t respond immediately to an e-mail or message, please understand that this is a one person exercise.  When I am not available, there is no one else, please be patient!

Sincere thanks to everyone who sent items, I appreciate your participation and support.  I am very proud to say that The Ruth Mailbag Group (all that you have completed and donated to those in need) makes a difference in the lives of many people.  Besides the infants in NICUs and newborn nurseries, you have touched the lives of the moms, too.  I hope that you know how much your efforts and concern are appreciated.  You make a difference in this world – a good difference!!!  I am proud to know you and help you to accomplish all that you do.  I am very thankful that I started this project in 2002.  Thank you very much!!!

THANK YOU:  Allyson Johnson, Australia; Anonymous; Carol Bower and ladies St Mark’s Church, UK; Doreen Brits, family and friends; Edna Smith; Frances Labuschagne; Gail Rozendaal; Gill Richmond; Gwen Draffan, England; Heila Jooste, Cresta; Hillary Griffith, England; Janet Mill; Janice Harrington, Australia; Janine Brauteseth Hawkins; Karin Strauss; Louise de Kock and Judy Maccarone; Margaret Easton, Scotland; Mary Ann Oosthuis; Meisie Foster; Methodist WA; Renate Dunham; Sharon Rosen, UK and Thea Strydom.

Thu, Jan 23, 2014 at 1:47 PM, Beharie Ansuya <> wrote: Just to let you know that the tumble dryer was delivered to our NICU on Saturday 11 January. All is in order and being processed by our Assets Department. A letter of appreciation was handed to the Hsiao Family.

All the Christmas goodies you provided us with in December were handed out to the Moms and their babies, who I am told by the staff were overjoyed by the gesture.

Thank you once again for all your assistance.  GOD BLESS, Regards, Ansuya Beharie (Ladysmith Provincial Hospital)


Sunday, 26 January 2014: Gifted 12 premature and 13 newborn babies.  Moms delighted with the packs for their babies.  Staff relaxed, friendly, happy and helpful.  Thank you to one and all whom in anyway contributed, your support is much appreciated.

Sunday, 02 February 2014: Gifted 9 premature, 24 newborn and 1 angel baby.  When I got to the mom who had lost her baby, she told me that her baby had passed on but would I have something nice for her to take her baby home in for the funeral tomorrow, please.  Thank you to you blessed ladies I had a white burial gown, hat and bootees in my bag which I offered to the mom, she opened it and her eyes welled up and she asked if she could really have it for her baby, I assured her that she could with all our love, we hugged and I moved along to the other moms.  The moms were delighted with the packs for their babies.  Staff relaxed, friendly, happy and helpful.  Thank you to one and all whom in anyway contributed to a very emotionally charged visit today, your support is much appreciated.  Bless you and thank you!!!

Tuesday, 11 February 2014: Gifted 5 large bags of assorted clothing to Siyathemba via Gail Rozendaal.  Thank you to all whom in anyway contributed, your support is much appreciated and gives these moms who are in desperate circumstances options they would not have had without your assistance and kindness.  You are all stars!!!

Sunday, 16 February 2014: Valentine gifting was done today!  26 babies of which 13 were premature, 1 of the staff is expecting twins in April so we also gave her two baby blankets.  The moms were delighted as will be seen from the photos.  With much ululating as we left!!!  Thank you to Mariette, Mary Ann and Shirley for helping me with the carrying and gifting, your assistance was much appreciated.  Thank you to all who contributed in anyway; your support is much appreciated.  (((Photos on our facebook page)))

Tue, Feb 11, 2014 at 1:36 PM, Snoeks Desmond <> wrote: Visit to King Dinuzulu Hospital: To all Beanies and Blankets for Babies group,

Today, thanks to all of you, 17 moms and normal-delivery babies received packs as well as 4 prem babies and their moms. The mothers were delighted with their packs and some of them immediately put their babies into the new outfits while others carefully refolded them into the packets. A mother of one of the prems got a normal-delivery package by mistake but was so excited she put the too large beanie on her baby and absolutely refused to take it off him. Seven packs were left with staff to be given to any mom in need.

Sister Shozi told me that the three packs left after the December visit were given to the mother of triplets who was in great need of help.

On this visit I got the numbers of beds in all the maternity and pediatric wards: enough to scare us into knitting through the night...

Ward D (normal delivery and prems) 24 beds

Ward E (Caesars) 27 beds

Neonatal ward 16 beds (some overlap here with Ward D as some moms sleep in D and their prem babies sleep in the neonatal ward)

TB ward (children aged 1 – 5) 31 beds

Ward M (children, mainly 2 – 3 year olds) 18 beds

I’m too scared to add up the numbers.

What I learnt today:

· Packs must contain similar items so that there is no gift-envy. All packs were opened immediately.

· Packs must be clearly marked for girls / boys / any child

· Packs for prems must be clearly marked

· Even in the hottest of weather (today it was 32 outside) the babies are well wrapped up so the warmer blankets I was keeping for winter can be given out at any time.

· Moms appreciate being made to feel special – the nurse told them the items came from women who knitted, sewed and crocheted and they all said a big thank you The Berea Mail reporter will come to my flat to see all our handiwork. I hope that an article in the paper will get us more donations in the form of wool or baby clothes.

Well done everyone BUT think of those numbers and don’t stop …

(((Congratulations and well done, keep up the good work!!!))

Thu, Feb 13, 2014 at 10:46 AM, Snoeks Desmond <> wrote: Today a member of our group took a bag of knitted items to give out to the Lower Umfolozi Memorial
Hospital in Empangeni, Snoeks (((Wonderful!!!  Bless you and thank you.  Keep up the good work.)))


Kindly note that the date for our WWKIP day event has been changed to 21 June 2014, unfortunately when I drew up our original plan for the year the dates given on the WWKIP day website were incorrect and have recently been amended, so, to fall in line with this change we will be having our get together on the 21st June.

Please plan your projects around the following days.  We shall continue to concentrate on items for the babies (premature and newborn).  Donate items such as baby clothing, new or gently used and handcrafted baby items, supplies for crocheting and knitting, like skeins of yarn, etc.

March for 20 April – Easter Sunday
April for 15 May – International Kangaroo Care Day
May for 21 June – World Wide Knit in Public Day – Comfort scarves for Victory Haven & other shelters
June for 18 July – Nelson Mandela Day
July for 9 August – National Women’s Day (Emphasis on Boarder Moms and their babies)
August for 12 September – International Crochet Day
September for November – Click for Babies / Purple hat project (Awareness of Shaken baby syndrome and Period of Purple Crying)
October for 17 November – World Prematurity Day
November for 25 December – Christmas Day
December for 1 January – New Year’s Day
January for 14 February – Valentine’s Day
February for 17 March – St Patrick’s Day

Please address all your post to: The Ruth Mailbag Group, “No Commercial Value - For Charity Only”, C/o Foto First, 10 Francis Road, Ladysmith 3370, RSA, (PLEASE USE YOUR GOOD OLD POST OFFICE!!!)  Thank you in advance for your support!

MEETING – There were no meetings held in December (we held our end of year function instead) or in January as this group was in recess for the holiday period.

Thank you, to all the ladies, who attended the meeting, held on Saturday 1 February 2014, it was wonderful to see you all looking so good after our 2 month break over the festive season.  I had some wool for everybody so there should be some busy hands, again.  The show and tell was thoroughly enjoyed and everybody so appreciated each other’s talents, always encouraging and supportive.   Those who were absent were sorely missed and we do hope that you will be able to join us next month.   Thank you, Di and the Juana Maria Home for the tea and coffee, much enjoyed after our business was completed.  Once again, thank you all for your talents and the time you spend with us each month, we do so enjoy your company.

REMINDER!  Meetings are held every 1st Saturday of the month at 2 pm at the Juana Maria Home in Francis Road, Ladysmith.  Please come along and bring a friend or 2 or 3...  the more the merrier, donations, patterns to swap, yarn to swap, etc.  See you there!!!

FINISHING ITEMS - Please finish your items before sending. I have been receiving items with NO buttons, NO ties, etc. I may not have the same yarn you used to make the item, so, therefore I can't finish it. It just takes a minute to go through your items to make sure they are done. After all, you work so hard to make these beautiful items why not finish them. :-)

Friend Bev’s one last ‘rule’: “When you make items for those in need, please make them as if you were making the items for your own family or good enough to sell. Please, make them lovely and something someone would be proud to wear. From time to time, I receive handmade items that are badly made. Old, mottled scraps of yarn are used, ends are hanging out and not finished off properly, sometimes the items are filthy, or smell of cigarette smoke. Some of the hats are tall and skinny and could not be stretched to fit a toilet paper tube let alone a head. Occasionally, the stitches are so huge they are sloppy and will not keep people warm due to the holes.”

Please don’t forget that some of the people who receive the items we make have not previously owned anything of their own, or it has been a long time since they have, let alone something lovely. They deserve our very best efforts. They deserve love in every beautiful stitch, and our prayers as we send them off to their final human destination. Please take care to make your charity items lovely works of art to not only warm the bodies of our Father’s dear children, but to give them a gift they will only have because of you.

On Wed, Feb 5, 2014 at 1:52 PM, Dlamini Londiwe <> wrote: I am now working for Ceza Hospital not Greytown can you please add it on your list.

Name of hospital: Ceza Hospital
Address for donations: Echibini Area, CEZA 3866
     Postal: Private Bag x200 CEZA 3866
     Street:Echibini Road
Name of staff liaison person: Londiwe Dlamini
Telephone number of staff liaison person: 035 832 5181/ 076 623 2259
Needs: beanies, bootees, vests, receivers, rompers
Fax: 035 832 0057
We have now lost contact with the Greytown Hospital, is there anybody who can approach the hospital to see if they would like to come back on board with us, please???

Lower Umfolozi District War Memorial Hospital (LUDWMH) change of name: Thu, Feb 6, 2014 at 8:46 AM, Mvubu Nompilo <> wrote: My details are still the same, nothing has changed except that my surname has changed from Mvubu to Xaba (Mrs Nompilo Xaba).  Mrs NH Xaba, Public Relations Officer, LUDWMH, Tel (Switchboard) 035 907 7000, Direct Tel: 035- 907 7156, Fax: 086 7735 244,

Please let me know if you learn of any hospital updates.

Attaching miscellaneous information and patterns for your enjoyment, if you have anything you would like to share with the members, please send it to me and if it is possible I will attach it to the next newsletter.  (((If you would like me to send you the attachments please comment with your email address, please.)))

Yours in charity crafting,
Joy Coetzee – Founder
The Ruth Mailbag Group

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