Dr. Heli Bathija has started a simple yet remarkable program called Hope for the Babies to save newborn babies in Afghanistan. In a nutshell, women in several countries are knitting a specific design of baby sweater for newborns. One is given to each baby born in a hospital. This serves two important purposes: 1) The mother comes to the hospital to give birth (most babies are born at home in very poor hygienic conditions) as she knows that her baby will have something to wear. 2) The baby has a better chance of survival because it has something to keep it warm, as well as being born in healthier conditions.
Here are the instructions to knit one baby sweater, copied from the Hope for the Babies website:
Cast on 70 stitches and knit 2 two purl and 2 knit stitches for 22 cm. Then knit 4 cm so that the 22 stitches in the middle continue as before (2/2) but 24 stitches on both sides are knitted only knit stitches ( no purl). Then make the square hole in the middle by terminating the 22 stitches in the centre and continuing both sides separately for 6 cm. Then re-cast on the centre and continue again 4 cm by 2/2 with 22 in the centre and 24 on both sides as knit only. Then make all 2/2 and knit 22 cm more before terminating. It is in the end one long piece (about 58 cm) with the square hole in the centre. Fold it and stitch the sides, leaving the openings for the sleeves.
Baby blankets and socks are also needed. Have a look at the beautiful, colorful examples on the website. For more information on this initiative and to get an update, follow Hope for the Babies.