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, 26 March 2014

International Kangaroo Care Day

The Ruth Mailbag Group

 April Project In Aid Of

International Kangaroo Care Day

15 May

We Are Collecting Items For Premature And Tiny Babies Born At Our Government Hospital.

Please Send To:

The Ruth Mailbag Group, C/O Foto First,

10 Francis Road, Ladysmith 3370,

South Africa

Closing Date – 1st Saturday in May

Thank You, In Anticipation!

Contact -; Fax 086 516 4618.

Monday, 24 March 2014

THE RUTH MAILBAG GROUP Newsletter 3 of 2014

THE RUTH MAILBAG GROUP Newsletter 3 of 2014


Greetings to everyone who participates in this very rewarding project that warms and comforts premature and newborn babies, thank you for all that you do and thank you for caring about others less fortunate than you or I. You make a difference in this world.

The Ruth Mailbag Group continues to grow in number of participants and in number of hospitals.  I request you help in keeping the hospital list information up to date.  Please send a note, postcard or email if you learn of address or other changes to the mailing address.  Sometimes I cannot get a title or office information to substitute for a name.  If that’s the case, I recommend that you write “or NICU/Maternity” after the name on the label.  Boxes will be returned because the employee is no longer on staff!!!  Also please write “For charity – NO retail value” on your package as staff do not always have the means to pay customs duties and these packages too will be returned.

If you are working with old copies of the Hospital List, please double check address and needs before mailing.  Changes happen faster than I can edit.  It’s probably wise to contact the hospital before sending packages.  Check the mailing address and check their needs.

Hospitals have unique rules and needs so it is wise to check what’s needed at your local hospital or to send samples to see what can be used and in what sizes and quantities.  Some hospitals dress their preemies while other hospitals do not use preemie apparel!

In addition, the e-mailing list for the newsletter continues to grow! Please send me e-mail address changes for the newsletter.

If you should come across a hospital that is particularly reluctant to have you gifting the babies born at their hospital please do what is reasonable to obtain their approval, support and co-operation but if it should go beyond reasonable then do find another hospital who will welcome you and your gifts for the babies.  This was the advice I recently gave our friend, Morag, in Pietermaritzburg.  There is no need to have to jump through hoops and beg to be allowed to visit the moms and gift their babies.  For every hospital that is reluctant to welcome you, you will find one that will welcome you.

I hope that the patterns, photos, and information contained in the newsletters motivate you and help you in your community service efforts.

The two requirements of all of the hospitals that are listed on the hospital list are: distribute donated items FREE to patients and acknowledge donations.  Sadly, some hospitals do not acknowledge deliveries.  I suggest enclosing a self-addressed stamped postcard in each package you deliver or mail (if you are from abroad, then add an e-mail address where they may contact you).  If a hospital does not acknowledge your efforts, send items to another hospital.

By the time you receive this, we will be in autumn and looking forward to cooler weather. I don’t know about you, but I am READY for autumn & winter!

I hope that everyone enjoyed the summer. Extreme weather conditions in many parts of the world affected some of you, but I hope not seriously. Let’s hope that the late summer and early autumn months do not bring other disasters.

Sincere thanks to everyone who sent donations, I appreciate your participation. Again, my thanks to all who participate in this effort to warm and comfort babies, keep healthy and safe!  You make a difference in the lives of others and your efforts are appreciated.


THANK YOU - Ann Glendinning, Scotland; Ann Hedley; Anonymous; Barbara Uk and family; Carol Bower and friends, UK; Doreen Brits, family and friends; Ellie Weeber; Francis Labuschagne; Gail Rozendaal; Gerty Kotze; Janet Mill; Judy Maccarrone; Karen Lock, England; Karin Strauss; Ladysmith MOTHWAS; Linda Barrett, England; Linda Mitchell and her mum Bunty MacGregor, Scotland; Lyn Geekie; Margaret van der Linde; Margaret Wood, UK; Marie Meyer; Methodist WA; Renate Dunham; Rose Seymour, Colenso; Rosemary Earp Jones; Rosemary Powell; and Ruby Metcalf, UK.


PHOTOS - Please find new pictures of items knitted/crocheted by dedicated Ruth Mailbag volunteers, etc on facebook page:  … … … … …




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.


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

March for 20 April – Easter Sunday


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!


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!!!




HEIDELBERG HOSPITAL - Fri, Feb 21, 2014 at 7:37 AM, Eleanor van Rooyen <> wrote:  I contacted you originally because my daughter has been visiting the maternity section of Heidelberg Hospital [was AG Visser hosp] in Gauteng. We have built a small team of elderly ladies who knit according to the needs, especially the prems. These ladies don't want to visit at all so they get shown photos taken with cell phones.

My son-in-law has relocated the family to a town of 1100 inhabitants - Pine Bluffs, Wyoming [on the Prairies].  Jireh has left the hospital ministry in the capable and enthusiastic hands of other 30 year old mothers, with support from 3 local churches in town.

As a voluntary community worker who sees the work as service to the Lord through serving others, I have great respect for the task you've been called to - and persevered in. I honour you for committing to excellence, and for doing everything 'as unto the Lord'. My reasoning is also : if it is unacceptable for me to utilise or consume, then it's unacceptable to pass on.

God bless, and may you continue to reap as abundantly as you sow.  As you well know, you can NEVER out give God!  Eleanor van Rooyen, Heidelberg, Gauteng.  (((Delighted to hear that the work at the Heidelberg Hospital is going on...  If you are in a position to assist, please, contact Eleanor at the above address for further information.  Wishing your daughter, son-in-law and family every happiness in their new home...  Bless you and thank you for your kind words!!!)))


EDENDALE HOSPITAL, PIETERMARITZBURG: Due to the difficulties Morag and her group are experiencing I have decided to take Edendale off our list until further notice.


Sat, Mar 15, 2014 at 9:33 PM, Elise VanRooyen <> wrote:  I work at Kalafong hospital, a tertiary hospital and previous "black" government hospital in the West of Pretoria. We have so many mothers with babies who struggle financially to dress their babies. I have a cupboard with baby items that I hand to needy mothers. There is never enough and definitely not enough to hand out to every mother that is admitted in my ward.

I am the Head of the Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) unit at Kalafong hospital. This unit takes care of premature infants while they are tied to their mother's chest. There is no-one involved in making baby clothes at our hospital, however my mother, who is 86 yrs old, loves knitting and has been knitting little matinee jackets which we hand out to the mothers on special occasions - Christmas, International breastfeeding week etc. (I attach a report about the breastfeeding week in which there are photos of the knitted jackets.) I prefer the jackets because the babies need to have skin contact with the mother and with a closed garment this will not happen. The babies are secured in the skin-to-skin position using a wrap (thari) made of polyester cotton. Since opening the KMC unit in 1999 I have made more than 2000 of these wraps. In order to find finances to buy material for the wraps we sell the wraps to the mothers for R10.00. I also sell them because the mothers appreciate them more The babies go home while very tiny and the mother need to continue with the skin-to-skin contact. This method of care is being introduced in most government hospitals. I am sure that there is a need for wraps in most hospitals taking care of premature infants. Currently there is a church group that helps me in making the wraps. I attach the wrap pattern for your information and how to tie the baby to the mother's chest.

My ward has 20 beds for mothers. We often have more than two sets of twins. There is also another 10 bedded cubicle where ill babies lie next to their mothers. I admit about 500 babies in the KMC section of the ward and about 450 babies in the ill baby cubicle per year. This pressure in numbers of babies admitted to the wards has made it impossible for me to provide gifts to every mother.

I have received items from overseas, in the past, sent to South Africa by Lions international. These items were booties, caps and little knitted vests that were completely inappropriate and we were not able to use them. My mother sat and unravelled many of these items and used the wool in knitting appropriate jackets, or turning them into little blankets. The booties were so small that I had to throw away most of them. Some of the hats were too big, short or too large. Some wool was very scratchy to use on babies, especially premature infants. After this episode I became very weary of people providing us with items that are not always appropriate. I have received some beautiful knitted blankets from England which were very handy and useful. Donations of second hand baby clothes are always welcome.

I will complete the information for our hospital and send it to you. However, if there is a group in

Pretoria that is supplying knitted garments, I would like to see the items before people go ahead and make them. Will it be all right if I inform the other hospitals in our district about your group? They can then contact you if they would like help.

It is lovely to read about your venture and that it has grown so much over the years.

(((If you are in a position to assist, please, contact Dr van Rooyen at the address above for further information and to arrange a showing of samples.)))




BABY BUDDIES GROUP - Fri, Feb 21, 2014 at 6:50 AM, <> Brenda Davies and Gaynor Fetting wrote: BABY BUDDIES GROUP: ROB FERREIRA GOVERNMENT HOSPITAL, NELSPRUIT AND TEMBA HOSPITAL, NELSPRUIT:  I just wanted to let you know we have a group of ladies young and old knitting blankets squares, hats, slippers and jumpers for premature babies born in the Rob Ferreira Government Hospital Nelspruit, Mpumalanga, when we have surplus stock we deliver to the Temba Hospital, Nelspruit. We go under the name of Baby Buddies. In our town there is also a group called Care Buddies, ladies who visit our oldies in old age homes. These wonderful ladies have got their oldies knitting and socialising on our behalf and the combination has been wonderful, old supporting young and in return having a common interest and something to share and talk about in the lounge where they meet.  (((If you are in a position to assist, please, contact Brenda and Gaynor at the above address for further information.)))


Thu, Feb 20, 2014 at 9:42 PM, Liittledunc <> wrote:  THE

PRECIOUS BABIES KNITTERS, GARSFONTEIN, PRETORIA:  I'm a retired MALE and involved with a very much smaller project named The Precious Babies Knitters. We are based in Garsfontein in Pretoria and do much the same as you do, except we are restricted to The Mamelodi and the Greater Pretoria area. As I'm sure it is with your operation, our knitters are 95% retired folk and mostly from the Eastern side of Pretoria.

I heard about your organisation from one of the Lady knitters and she brought me a hard copy of your Newsletter 2 of 2013. From this it appears to me that you are concentrated primarily in the Natal area? I enjoyed the Newsletter so much and found the size of what you do absolutely amazing!!  Well done young lady. Since then I have been trying to find a web site that

you might have to possibly be able to get your newsletter regularly. I'm not involved with the so-called Social Media and wouldn't have the foggiest idea of how it operates, so I hope you do have a web site.

Oh. Before it's thought there may be a clash of interests, I've not heard of your organisation in Pretoria but the need is so great that even if you are here, there's no way that either of us would be undercutting each other. I have found that I can't meet the demand that I've unearthed!

I was intrigued to see your links into the State Hospitals. We have struck out at all but 2 state hospitals in the Tshwane (Pretoria) area. They won't let us in and we may not have any contact with the Mom's even though a lady helping me is a Lady Methodist Minister! They want me to give the gifts to a clerk and they will handle the distribution from there. Many of my knitters are so concerned that the items will be sold for personal gain. The 2 places we are in are via a Sister in the Maternity ward of I place and in the second it's via a Provincial Social worker based at the2nd hospital.

I now also distribute through NGO's, places of safety for preggy young and destitute girls, community Baby Safes or holes in the walls, Child welfare etc. In the Pretoria area there are a great number of both Catholic and Anglican projects being run by Various Orders of Nuns and some of them deal with little new-borns who are abandoned, discarded and often left in dustbins etc. These are the babies that we regard as still PRECIOUS and go out to find and help.

We make up packs for the babies (with or without their Moms) where we try to ensure that most things a mom, who is considering discarding or giving away her 2 or 3 day old baby, would need. Our packs all contain: 2 Knitted Mother Teresa Vests,  2 Matching Beanies,  2 Matching prs. of booties,  1 Wrapping blanket,  1 Larger baby blanket (preferably big enough to wrap little one to mom's back),  3 Towelling Nappies,  2 Nappy pins,  60 Bumbies,  12 Maternity Sanny pads,  1 Baby soap,  1 Talcum powder,  1 Vaseline, 1 Facecloth.  We also get a fair number of knitted toys, 2nd hand baby items as well as new items. These get spread across the packs we make up on, hopefully, a fair and rational basis.  Enough about us!

I admire the scope of what you do and it must be a full time job surely. Your newsletter had some wonderful tips that we'd not even thought of and I hope you don't mind us cribbing from you. I do however always acknowledge the source of cribbed items i.e. the Ruth Mail bag! I'm so sorry to take up so much of your time reading all this; the email started out just to get your web site address, and I got carried away!

My best regards and congratulations on a magnificent job,

Duncan Bain

(((If you are in the Pretoria area and would like to help Duncan and The Precious Babies Knitters, please, contact him at the address above.)))


KUVELA OTHANDWENI - March 11, 2014, Morag van Deventer wrote: Hopefully good news! I had a patient today, who I trained with in psychiatry, I asked her where she now worked, she said (guess..???) Northdale neonatal /postnatal ward! I showed her photos of gifting done @ Edendale, and photos of the gift packages, and she says she is very good friends with the Maternity Matron! She said nobody does it there, and there is a big need! I have given her my cell number, my email address, and said if they are interested, they must please contact me. She said that she will see this matron on Thursday. Am hoping this will open a door! She was telling me there is a big need, moms have nothing, and she seemed really keen, will wait and see!


KUVELA OTHANDWENI - Wednesday, 19 March 2014, Morag wrote: I haven't heard anything from Greys or Northdale (feels like I am hoping for too much!) - have just sent an SMS to the operational manager for the kangaroo care at Edendale, I won't give up, and mentioned that I had been in December, that I had permission from the PRO then, and that I had met with Matron Chonco. I said that I had lots of gifts to bring and could she please get back to me. So, let's wait and see! My husband was also saying I could think of donating some of the clothing to the Salvation Army children's home, so I may also do that. I think they are only able to have 6 babies at a time. Gift of the givers were very keen, and I am waiting on a reply from them. I had asked if they would be happy to take knitted items. I just want to say a huge thank you to you for putting the Ladies of our Lourdes in contact with me - they have been truly amazing! Every week at least 2 boxes arrive, full of knitted blankets and little vests, outfits, they have made. They have also been amazing in making and sending beanies, scarves, gloves and socks for the winter warmth project for the school! They have also sent pencils, pencil bags, erasers, colouring pencils, rulers, books for the children! It is going to be an amazing gifting - I will post lots of photos! I will be doing that in April. I had emailed Margaret, who organises all the sending etc, to tell her of my difficulties at Edendale, and to also tell her that there are other needy places who will benefit from all the things they send (I told her I was trying Northdale, Greys and the Gift of the Givers). She sent a beautiful reply, which really made it all worthwhile, saying that she gets great joy from collecting and sending, and that there are some elderly ladies who have a new enthusiasm for life, and some now have a reason to be up and doing something. She was also saying that she had been approached by someone to say thanks for giving them something that gives them great joy! Those ladies are amazing! I was lucky enough to have the sister who does the ante-natal classes for my hospital, donate a whole lot of samples - multi-gifts for the mums, pads, nipple creams, a bit of clothing - it all goes a long way. Her gran knits for me now, and she also says her gran is furiously knitting and her mum can't keep, up with her wool needs! I had said I would ask if you had any extra. I must get your cell number, to send you a photo of the blanket I am still making with that white wool on a cone!

I was worried that you would think I hadn't been trying, but was rather relieved myself when you said you also had no luck! I wonder what would stop me walking in during visiting hours and just giving out gifts...

The wool will definitely be knitted up and given to the needy. I had asked one of the maternity sisters in our hospital, if they would be interested in getting involved, and she came back to me this week to say I must come and see them as they quite like the idea of getting involved.
I went onto the internet, and sent a few emails - to 4 other places who take abandoned babies, a drop off place, and 2 others. One has come back saying they have enough, which I appreciate. I spent the morning packing stuff to take to the Gift of the Givers, which I will either take this afternoon or tomorrow; it worked out to be over 100 outfits, loads of hats, several blankets, and I still have lots of second hand baby clothes that they won't take.  Well, that's all my news. Will keep, you updated!

(((Thank you, for all that you are doing to try and help the mothers and babies at the Government Hospitals in the Pietermaritzburg area; I am sad that nobody wants your beautiful packs and there is so much need...  Delighted that you were able to make such a large donation to Gift of the Givers but on the other hand it saddens me, as these are 100 outfits that could have gone to needy moms and babies at Government hospitals in your area if they will only allow you in the door...  All our gifts go to the mothers FREE OF ANY CHARGE and should therefore not inconvenience anybody; as you will be hand delivering it will not be necessary for them to acknowledge your donation...  how much easier can it be...)))




Sunday, 23 February 2014: Gifted 18 premature and 20 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, 16 March 2014:  Gifted 19 premature and 17 newborn babies.  Moms delighted with their packs (a summer baby gro, a winter baby gro, a vest, hat and bootees among other items for the newborn babies and for the premature babies little sets consisting of a hat, jacket and bootees) and soft toys for their babies.  Staff relaxed, friendly, happy and helpful.  Thank you to Frances Labuschagne and Doreen Brits for all the St Patrick’s Day outfits for the premature babies.  Thank you, Frances Thomson, for playing “Santa” today and thank you to one and all whom in anyway contributed, your support is much appreciated.

Wed, Mar 19, 2014 at 8:25 AM, Beharie Ansuya <> wrote: I wish to thank you and your team for you kindness and dedication on behalf of our babies, mummies and staff at Ladysmith Provincial.  GOD BLESS!  Kind Regards, Ansuya Beharie (Ladysmith Provincial Hospital)

Wed, Mar 19, 2014 at 11:08 PM, Karen Clark <> wrote: To all you wonderful knitters out there, I am terrible at sharing the amount of gratitude I feel for all your efforts knitting up storms around the country. I don't even know where some of you are but the knitted baby goodies keep flooding in. I was just saying to Nomvula, who helps me at the Busfare Babies Birth House, that we are running low and need to make up some more baby bags for the mums who give birth at the birth house. I thought to myself, I wonder if we will have enough items to fill the bags. When I came home tonight and there is a box containing two bags (thanks Betty and her knitting group) of knitted baby goodies that arrived today. I don't know where you all are, but please know that each little item that you knit goes to a mum who dresses her baby warmly every night and enjoys all your efforts. Much appreciation, Karen (Busfare Babies Birth Centre) (((If you are in the Kidds Beach area and would like to help Karen and Busfare Babies Birth Centre, please, contact her at the address above.)))




Thank you, to all the ladies, who attended the meeting, held on Saturday 1 March 2014, it was wonderful to see you all looking so good despite the heat and humidity of late.  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.


Winter in South Africa (May to July) is characterized in the higher-lying areas of the interior plateau by dry, sunny, crisp days and cold nights. So it’s a good idea to make and donate warm clothes with long sleeves and long pants.

The hot, humid KwaZulu-Natal coast, as well as the Lowveld (lower-lying areas) of Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces, offer fantastic winter weather with sunny, warmish days and virtually no wind or rain.

The Western Cape gets most of its rain in winter, with quite a few days of cloudy, rainy weather. However, these are always interspersed with wonderful days to rival the best of a British summer.

The high mountains of the Cape and the Drakensberg in KwaZulu-Natal usually get snow in winter.


Special Appeal – Baby Blankets: we urgently need baby blankets for the babies born at the local State hospital, minimum size 30 inches / 76.2 cm square, please, no preemie blankets as they are not used in the unit and will be much too small when the baby is discharged...  these moms and their babies come mostly from informal settlements where the accommodation is probably a shack, cold, draughty and leaks.  Please help us warm these babies NOW!  Our stock of blankets is depleted...  Please send your blankets, bought, knitted, crocheted, sewn, loomed, second hand good quality... to: The Ruth Mailbag Group, “For charity, NOT for sale”, C/o Foto First, 10 Francis Road, Ladysmith 3370.  Thank you, for helping the babies of our community!!!


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.  Enjoy the articles, patterns, and information in this newsletter. Thank you for using your time and talents to help others.


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

If you would like to receive the attachments, please, comment with your email address and I will send them to you.  Thank you.