Jane is an adoptive mother of a Colombian daughter and a member of a knitting website. She solicited knitted hats and scarves for kids at a Colombian orphanage. Laritza Taft (now a board member of FOCO) threw out an idea: instead of knitting hats and scarves, why not TEACH kids how to machine knit, giving them the skills for a lifetime of secure employment? Friends of Colombian Orphans received nonprofit status and formed a board. They include Laritza, a Colombian American with expert machine knitting skills, Karen, an English woman with project management skills who traveled to Bogota with Jane, and John, an American attorney and husband of Jane.
The seed of the concept of teaching machine knitting grew and in 2009, FOCO’s first machines were installed in a Bogota facility for kids in state care. Three years later, we have grown to 6 machines and are providing knitting instruction to kids at Hogares Club Michin in Bogota. This home for abandoned and at risk children works with us by managing the program, thus saving us money that we can use for paying the knitting teacher, buying yarn and new machines and for maintaining the machines. Teens at Hogares Club Michin can choose to “try out” the program: if they like it, they can commit to attending knitting classes in the afternoons on a regular basis. We have now provided vocational training to at least 100 teens: when they age out of the orphanage, they will have skills that will translate into jobs.
Our dream is the same as Hogares Club Michin’s : to form a cooperative so that our young learners can return to knit full time and make a living in a mentored, safe environment. We are working on that goal as a team.