Beautiful Quilts for Syrian Refugees, and a Future Trip to Ethiopia

Quilts Beyond Borders (QBB) is ramping up for a busy summer this year. Already we’ve provided quilts to be taken to Rwanda, Zaire, Jordan, Greece, Macedonia, India, Haiti, and a camp in the US for children who have been affected by HIV/AIDS.

Typically the quilts we give to needy children and orphans are 40-45″ wide by 48-60″ long, but occasionally we receive requests for quilts that are larger or smaller than that.  We’re currently finishing up an initiative to provide 200 baby quilts to expectant and new mothers living in Syrian Refugee camps. The baby quilts will be packaged in “Baby Boxes”, along with other baby supplies new infants need, and the boxes can be used for the baby to sleep in. The Baby Box concept was initially developed in Finland to help out new mothers and lower infant mortality there in the 1930’s, and it’s a great way to help out these mothers who are giving birth under incredibly difficult circumstances. For more information about Baby Boxes, see this http://www.babyboxco.com/pages/tradition

We work with Salaam Cultural Museum (SCM) to get the quilts over to the Syrian Refugee camps. SCM does humanitarian and medical work in the camps. One of our Regional Coordinators, Susan Schmidt, spent some time with Rita Zawaideh, the Director of SCM. The following excerpt from Susan’s email to the rest of us is something I want to pass along.

“Rita said things are bad in the refugee camps, women beginning to struggle with depression and there have been some suicides because they have been in the camps so long. I don’t think I realized just how much our quilts mean to the women and children there. Rita said the women cry when they get them and absolutely love them. They can’t believe people from America would do this for them. They are cherished and taken with them when they leave the camps. Everyone needs to know how much Rita appreciates us and how much we mean to her. Even she is amazed that people who have no ties to the Middle East would make such beautiful quilts to donate.”

Here are some of the beautiful baby quilts that will be going to new mothers in the Syrian Refugee camps.  These quilts were made by Brenda Barnett, Bettijean Meyer, Eleanor MacMillan, Jeanne Ayers, Jill Ruesch, Sue Wood and myself.  Brenda and I did our quilts together, using some Unfinished Objects (UFO) blocks that were sent to us by Hollis McCright, and using the “Stitch & Flip” method of quilting — it was a lot of fun!  To see who made each quilt, hover your cursor over the thumbnail.  To get a closer look, click on it.

Now that we’ve completed the Baby Box effort for the year (there will be another Baby Box effort next year as well), we’re continuing to provide at least 20 quilts a month to SCM for the camps. Many of them travel with medical or humanitarian volunteers, and others travel via container ship, used as packing for medical equipment until they reach their destination, where they are delivered to children who are delighted to receive them. Many of the camps are in mountainous areas, which get very cold at night, especially in the winter, so the families cherish the quilts that are received by the children. They are, quite literally, lifesaving.

For more about SCM and the Baby Box initiative, take a look at this article from the Seattle Times:  http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/supplies-and-tlc-in-baby-boxes-for-syrian-refugees/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=article_left_1.1

Working with Orphan Outreach (a charity in Plano, Texas that works with orphanages around the world) QBB will be providing more quilts for their volunteers to take to an orphanage in India during the summer. They will be taking more than 150 in two deliveries.

In September I will be going back to Ethiopia, along with 2 or 3 other volunteers and 200-250 quilts to be given children in orphanages there. We will also be teaching some sewing skills to indigent women to help them develop the means to earn a living. It’s always a wonderful trip for me, as I spent my “Wonder Years” in Ethiopia, and it’s always great to get back there. I’m looking forward to bringing some of the beautiful quilts lovingly made by wonderful quilters from the US and Canada to provide to the orphans there.

Thank you all for making this possible!

Carla

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