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Milk Bags Needed (Posted On: Tuesday, May 01, 2012)

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My friend Nancy invited me to visit with the Senior Ministry Group from the New Life Church Mission outreach and find out a bit more about what this group of dedicated seniors is doing to help out by using recycled milk bags and bed sheets.  They use the milk bags to crochet sleeping mats for children and babies and the group also makes little dresses and smocks out of bed sheets. 

Not only does using the recycled milk bags keep them out of our land fill sites, because the plastic takes so long to break down the sleeping mats will last a long time. 

The group is full of energy, but short on plastic milk bags right now and are reaching out to the community in hopes that donations of cleaned, dry milk bags will be dropped off at the New Life Church in Collingwood located at 28 Tracey Lane just off of Hurontario Street or at The Olde Town Terrace located at 219 Hurontario Street in Collingwood.

The technique for making the sleeping mats is quite interesting.  First the milk bags are cleaned and dried and then laid flat.  Next, strips are cut from side to side (creating large loops).  The milk bag strips are then linked together to create a long string of plastic milk bag loops – no knots required.  Once that step has been completed, using a 10mm crochet hook create a chain 36” wide.  Row 1 single crochet in each chain stitch, turn.  Row 2, single crochet in each single crochet from previous row.  Continue on until the work measures 60” long.

It was also very notable that such lovely little dresses could be made out of discarded bed sheets.  It makes me want to look through my linen closet right now and find all the bed sheets that we don’t use anymore and I hope that you feel likewise.

So please save your milk bags and your bed sheets for this group.  The nicer the pattern on the sheets, the nicer the little dresses will be.

The group members are Nancy McSorely, Doreen Black, Katherine Kane, Wayne Ridgeway, Lillian Murray, Betty Mceachern, George Barker, Mary Seamore, Mary Nobes and Marshall Barker.

Thank you Nancy for the cookies.  Two of them (the biggest ones) made it back home to Dan as instructed.

Read on below to find out more about the history of the Mission and a first hand account of some of the experiences as written and submitted by Wayne Ridgeway:

New Life Church’s Mission outreach began 7 years ago when we joined a group from Elmvale Community church who were sending a group to the Dominican to work with Haitian refugees. The following year we began sending our own group, and have been doing this annually.

In the 70’s and 80’s, many Haitians were smuggled into the Dominican to work in the sugar cane fields. To keep the Haitians in the Dominican, the sugar canes owners took their birth certificates and passports. Their wages were skimpy to say the least. When the sugar cane fields closed, their identification was lost. Without these important papers, they could not return to Haiti, at the same time they could not obtain employment in the Dominican due to their low social status, which has not changed. Without employment, they could not earn an income to supply their basic needs and the needs of their families.
Our trips consist of bringing and distributing clothes, shoes, school supplies, hygiene packs, etc., to help them meet their basic needs.

When medical staff are available, we have also brought doctors and dentists, along with medical supplies to leave at a clinic. I made my first trip April 2010, on my first day of the trip, while touring a Haitian home; I noticed a charcoal stove in the middle of the floor. When I questioned our guide regarding the safety issues, she told me they cooked inside their home because any amount of breeze would burn up the charcoal, which they have little money to buy more. Another hazard is babies walking into the hot stove and burning coals. I took on the project of redesigning their stove for outdoor use.

In February 2011, I returned to have sample stoves made by a sheet metal craftsman who uses a cold chisel and hammer to cut out sheet metal crafts. Our first hand made prototype in the Dominican was successfully made. In June 2011, I returned and lived in the Haitian village, for a month, with the purpose of introducing the stoves to the Haitian women. I had 7 stoves made and given to the neediest. With the money I raised for the trip and part of the Missions Budget at New Life Church, we were able to subsidize the cost of building 200 stoves. Not only were the cooking and health needs of the women looked after, employment was created for 2 sheet metal craftsman to help meet the needs of their families.

In the spring of 2012, our Seniors Ministry began making milk bag mats. The mats are used mainly for babies to sleep on so they are not on the ground or concrete floor. The milk bag mats are covered with a sheet to protect the baby. In the morning the soiled sheet and milk bag mat are then washed off in the local river.

In June 2011, our Junior Youth Pastor, Megan Ratnam, and her husband moved to Sosua, in the Dominican, to bring a more permanent effort to the Haitians. Our projects have moved from going-giving-returning to going-giving-project development-creating employment-providing lasting aid-returning. Having Megan and her husband living in the Dominican has made a difference to our efforts. We go to make lasting changes, helping them improve their dignity and living circumstances.

Wayne Ridgeway


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