Friday, October 5, 2012

Helping Colombian Orphans thru Machine Knitting

Jane, who is another knitter in Austin, and who serves on the board of the nonprofit Friends of Colombian Orphans (FOCO) met me at my office Thursday, and we went to lunch.  I enjoyed spending a little time getting to know Jane and lunching away from the office. 

Jane and her story inspired me.  I often link to websites with beautiful knitted things, and I mention "inspiration," but just wait until you see the FOCO website!

Jane explained that Colombia has a shocking number of homeless orphaned children, a greater percentage than anywhere else in the Americas.  So many of these little ones have lost their parents to endless war, and they live in desperate poverty - "first world" people can hardly comprehend such hunger and privation.  She says the locals are used to seeing uncared-for, homeless children on the streets every day. 

Jane adopted a Colombian daughter, and as she and her husband experienced conditions there during the adoption process, they began to wonder how they could help more Colombian orphans. 

At the orphanages, IF the children are very lucky, they learn some sort of vocational skill to help them escape an endless cycle of poverty.  FOCO has established a program in one of the orphanages that gives these beautiful girls and boys a chance to learn machine knitting, a valuable vocational skill, so that when they are sixteen years old and leave the orphanage's care, they can find work as production knitters. 

FOCO provides a machine knitting teacher on-site at an orphanage in Bogota and a dedicated knitting room with Brother and Silver Reed machines.   They are constantly exploring ideas to make the program more effective, dealing with all sorts of challenges, like obtaining machines, good yarn, sufficient instruction, funding, and on and on. They're determined to do their best for these kids, and have done wonderful work with few resources. 

Below is a picture of the children having a fashion show in garments knitted by the older children on Brother and Silver Reed knitting machines.  These kids are very talented, enthusiastic knitters, and I hope you'll go look at the website - in particular, there are more fashion show photos at  And, while you're over there, click around, check out FOCO, and think about whether you can help these children, too.


  1. Thank you, Diana, for this wonderful shout out. We are inspired by these great kids and the huge need for vocational training. Machine knitting works! Every penny we raise goes to the program. We have no administrative costs. If anyone would like to know more about our program, contact me through the website.
    Gracias, y abrazos!

  2. Thank you Diana. Since we started the program we have had many challenges, but we are convinced this is the way to help the children in my country. We dream with creating a cooperative for the kids that age out and are no longer eligible for adoption, and have the leave the security of the orphanage. If they have a place to work at, with a qualified skill, they will not return to the street. Our dream is to have a self sustainable program. Thanks again for raising awareness about it.

  3. This is a little OT but I have a friend that adopted two babies from Col. They are both grown now, but she said that the poverty in that country is heart breaking. She was sad that she could only take 2 of them.