Home-knitted or bought, a woollen hat can be a blessing to people of any age as they experience winter temperatures in Eastern Europe

Woolly hats help families through Balkan winter

Nothing is more practical than a woollen hat. And six-year-old Esmedin looks pleased with the brand-new home-knit made for him by a stranger far away.

“Winter here can be very cold,” says Faton Barisha who organised the distribution of Blythswood shoeboxes to 200 households in a Roma community near Gjakova, Kosovo. “There is often a lot of snow in January and February and night-time temperatures can be minus 10 degrees.

“These families live in extreme poverty with many having five children and some as many as 11. Esmedin liked the toy car and coloured pencils which he found in his box but he loved the hat.

“His father is ill with lung disease and his mother is often begging on the street so it is his grandma who cares for him and his brothers. In this situation, the adults especially appreciate the hygiene items like shampoo and soap, and also new underwear and socks.”