Tuesday, June 18, 2024


 About 17 years ago, perhaps even a bit more, I had to take my son to the children's hospital in Landshut because of an irregularity in his heart beat, and for a while we thought he might have a problem because of a small hole in his cardiac septum. When a second inspection a few months later showed that everything was fine because the hole had closed up I was, of course, relieved tremendously. While waiting for procedures during these visits (and later, too, whenever we had to spend a Saturday afternoon in the emergency room of that hospital because he had dropped a heavy air pump on his toe which then had to be puntuated in the toe nail to relieve pressure, or stuff similar to that like lively boys do) I saw a small poster about a charity project by the former Medical Director of the hospital who had gone to live in Ruanda after he retired, performing surgeries on children that could not easily be obtained there and had set up a charity called "Kinderhilfe in Ruanda" to support children and their families. I was so relieved that I could take a healthy child home who did not need any surgery, and who had all the medical options and opportunities spread out before him that I started supporting that charity.

I donated all revenue from my one and only knit-along to them.

Picture from ravelry of one prototype of my
shoulder wrap that was the topic of the knit-along.


Whenever I am giving away a quilting book, utensils or fabric that I don't  need anymore and people ask me what they owe me for that I request they make a donation to that charity instead.

Dr. Jahn wrote a book about his story - he grew up in Eastern Germany, left the country in 1963, served as a doctor on a ship in Vietnam, and was the long-time medical director of that children's hospital in Landshut before going to Ruanda, which I read several years ago and which impressed me deeply. Not only was he performing surgeries, he also took in homeless children and made it possible for them to attend school and learn a trade.

I have never met Dr. Jahn personally, although I know that acquaintances of ours know him, and I was always thinking I would try and ask them whether we could arrange a meeting should they know if he was coming to Germany for a visit. I was shocked when I read in the paper a couple of years ago that he had been attacked and robbed - by a former protégée! He barely survived but then again continued practising medicine for children, and helping their families, heavily affected by post-Covid effects on food prices, or floodings. Sometimes he would send an email newsletter to keep supporters informed, sometimes a short notice would appear in the local paper.

Today I read in the paper that he passed away in Ruanda recently.

 I am sad about this. A completely self-less person, who put his entire being into the service of others, particularly children. But I was glad to read in the final paragraph that two adoptive sons are planning to continue his work in cooperation with the organization in Landshut. There will be opportunities again to ask for donations, and I wonder whether I should run the knit-along once more? I'm afraid I don't have time right now to concoct a new one, but as I gave away every single prototype I made, and the scarf I knitted while the knit-along as well I don't have one for myself, so it would be a good way to get myself a scarf for myself, after all these years.

I have written about the Christmas postcards Dr. Alfred Jahn used to send and am wondering whether his adoptive sons mentioned in the article will send one this year, too. Or whether I won't receive another letter with stamps from Ruanda again. It used to be one highlight during the pre-Christmas season to see the beautiful card inside... May he rest in peace.

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