Posts Tagged ‘quilts beyond borders’

Pictures from Ukraine, and Letter Describing Delivery

December 7, 2014

We recently received a note from Charity Jacobson who took 89 quilts to the Romaniv Orphanage for disabled boys in Ukraine.   She also sent us some pictures.   We sometimes find that the people who run the orphanages don’t always let us personally distribute the quilts to the children, and when that happens, we’re always happy when we get pictures later, which was the case here.

Great thanks to all of the wonderful quilters who made this delivery possible!

Here are the pictures Charity received:

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Charity’s note:

Early this year, toward the end of August, I was able to make a trip to Ukraine. While there, I had the opportunity to visit Romanov orphanage. This orphanage is home to 84 boys all of whom are physically and/or mentally challenged. The boys range in ages from 5 to 30. In Ukraine, typically people who are raised in an orphanage do not ever escape the orphanage system, but they spend their entire lives there. As a whole, orphanages are sad places with little care actually being given to the children. Oftentimes, the children (especially those with special needs) are looked down upon as sub-human and unimportant. People who get jobs working at orphanages will often steal from the orphans. The boys’ orphanage in Romanov is a special place. The director of this orphanage has worked hard to make it different from the “normal” orphanage in Ukraine. He has planted lots of flowers all over the grounds, he has painted walls, and he allows people to come in and interact with the boys. He has worked hard to keep the orphanage from becoming corrupt. All of the gifts given to the boys are recorded and kept track of. Thus, it is difficult for anyone who works there to steal.

Almaz (or diamond) Church in Kyiv, Ukraine has taken this boys orphanage as one of its ministries. They have been diligent in raising funds for the orphanage to help feed the boys real meat, to help get them some dental care, and to bring some joy to their lives. The Mercy Ministries team at Almaz tries to visit these boys as often as they can. They visit them at least 4 times a year and seek to visit them more often. The boys know these people and they look forward to hearing Bible teaching and taking part in some games/activities with the visitors from Almaz.

When I went to this orphanage in Romanov, I partnered with Almaz Church in order to get there. We went as a team of five people. Before leaving the States in August, I had sent the quilts on ahead because there was too many to keep track of on a flight. With the help of some very generous people here in the U.S., I was able to pay for everything including shipping and the cost of a day trip.

Early Friday morning, I woke up and was driven, with my translator, to the metro station (about 30 minutes away). We then rode the metro for about 45 minutes across and under Kyiv. I was jostled around as I tried to keep myself from falling over amid the swaying of the metro. It was a good time to study the people of Ukraine as I silently stood watching the masses going to work. Finally, we reached the western side of Kyiv and walked to a McDonalds to await the rest of the team. Sasha and Ina, a newly married couple who work regularly with special needs people and have a great desire to serve these boys, met us first. Not long after, Vladimir – our driver – arrived with the van full of shoe boxes from Samaritan’s Purse to also gift to the boys. Our car was full as we sped along the roads of Ukraine to the village. It felt like we must be Saint Nicolas with our van packed with quilts and other small gifts. However, instead of the smooth ride in the sleigh, we jostled and rumbled along the pothole-covered dirt roads trying to keep the boxes from falling on our heads as we went.

Finally, about three hours later, we arrived at the orphanage. I’d been there before and was thankful that I knew what to expect. We tumbled out of the car and stretched our legs a bit before gathering in a circle to make our plans. I strained to understand the Ukrainian/Russian chatter of the other four. Finally, we were ready. The assistant director met us and brought us to the warehouse where we could unload our gifts. He explained that he would need an exact count of everything we were bringing for their records. We popped the boxes of quilts open and did a final count of how many were there. I was surprised and pleased to find that there were a few extra. I can’t swear by it, but I believe the final count was 89! Every one of the quilts had made it safely through! At this point, the assistant director informed us that he was going to put the quilts in storage for another time. I worked hard to explain to him (through my translator) that we had come to give the quilts to the boys ourselves. It had been pre-confirmed by the director that we could do this. However, despite arguing for twenty minutes with him upon this point, I got nowhere. The deal was, we were not to give the boys the quilts because there were government official at the orphanage that day who were doing an inspection. Something about handing the quilts out was contrary to the normal ritual and thus could put a black mark on their report. Alas, I had to submit to this sad state of affairs and just go along with it. I would still see the boys and leave the gifts to be distributed another time. After our long argument, the assistant director finally took some pity on the frustrated American and said that we would act out giving the quilts away for pictures and then he would put the quilts away. I was not very interested in this as I didn’t want the boys to have false hope. I was assured by the rest of my team that this orphanage was honest and that, as the weather got colder, the boys would get their quilts. I could do nothing but trust. The next few hours we spent talking with the boys, listening to Sasha preach a little sermon, and playing a few games. They were so happy to have us all there. We shook many hands, gave many hugs, and were happily received by the boys. They were very thankful for our visit and asked that we return very soon.

I went away that day sad at what I saw and disappointed that we could not have been able to give them our gifts personally. We so wanted them to know that we cared for them and loved them. After getting back to Kyiv and talking over the trip with the pastor and the other team members, we settled on a plan that another group of people would go back to Romanov in a couple of months and get an update on the quilts. They would make sure that they were being use and that the boys were allowed to have them.

Just this morning, as I was sitting down to write to the pastor at Almaz Church and inquire on the status of this latest trip, I received and email from him. He informed me that he had just recently received some un-staged pictures of the orphanage and that the quilts were obviously being used! Not every boy got a quilt because some of them are so destructive that they would ruin it quickly, but those who can appreciate it and take care of it without immediately destroying them are being allowed to have the quilts on their beds.

Not every person will have the opportunity to see their quilt in the arms of a happy boy and I am very sorry for that. Thankfully, however, the diligent work of Almaz Church and the cooperation of the orphanage director has assured that every quilt that was given to this orphanage will be used and loved by one of the orphan boys who live there. Each quilt will find its way into the arms of a needy boy who can enjoy, not only the colors and warmth, but the love that was poured into his quilt.

Again, thanks to all the wonderful quilters who made this delivery possible!  I would also like to thank those of you who have responded to our request for quilts for Syrian Refugees and for the Forgotten People of the Bennett Freeze Area.  We have reached our target for the Forgotten People, and the effort to get quilts for Syrian Refugee children will be on-going for some time.





Call for Quilts Going to Russia

May 22, 2012

Orphan Outreach

Quilts Beyond Borders has forged a new relationship with Orphan Outreach, located in Plano, TX. Orphan Outreach’s mission is to improve ”the lives of orphans and at-risk children in Guatemala, Honduras, Russia and India through early intervention, education and evangelism.” This is a similar mission shared by Quilts Beyond Borders, which has motivated the work we have done in countries in Africa, as well as Haiti, and Central America. We are grateful to have an opportunity to team up and help Orphan Outreach with an up-coming mission trip to Russia.

The Request

The organization has asked Quilts Beyond Borders to help fulfill a special need for 24 young Russian women, who will soon be graduating from the orphanage and moving into their own apartment. The 24 quilts need to be 42X60 inches long and the style should be considered for a young woman, aged 17-20 years old. They should also be machine quilted and machine bound in order to hold up to severe laundry conditions.

As well, Orphan Outreach has requested 12 additional baby quilts for those girls who are currently pregnant. These quilts should be at least 36 inches by 48 inches.

Pease include a label for each included quilt you send. The label should read:
Quilts Beyond Borders
Made for You with Love
By (Quilter’s Name)
Belongs to (Space for Recipient’s Name)

The Deadline

We are asking Quilt Beyond Borders volunteers to commit to making one or more of these 36 quilts by Friday, August 31, 2012. This means the quilts need to be finished and ready to send no later than this date. Please email Quilts Beyond Borders  to inform us of your commitment to completing one or more of these quilts by August 31, 2012. We will respond letting you know where you may send the quilt(s) once completed.

We thank you in advance for your willingness to continue your volunteerism with Quilts Beyond Borders. This is a new opportunity and country for Quilts Beyond Borders, and we cannot express our enthusiasm enough. We hope you are equally as excited about enriching the lives of young orphan women and children through your love of quilting.

Tops by Audrey M.; Quilted by Ramona Y.

May 6, 2012

Here are a couple of beautiful quilts to brighten up your weekend…

Ramona Y., of Crownsville, MD, contributed her quilting and binding skills to these beautiful tops crafted by Audrey Murphy. Each of these quilts are so festive and lively. The butterflies flutter off the page, the stars practically twinkle, and the blue sashing really brings out the rows on the ladder quilt.

Thank you, Ramona and Audrey, for collectively creating these four quilts.  -Jodi

6 Pretty Quilts from Nancy

August 16, 2011

One of the many lovely benefits of coordinating long arming for QBB is that every once in a while I get to meet someone in my neck of the woods. As some of you know, I belong to several long arming Yahoo groups and I occasionally post that I have tops kitted up and ready for quilting. Over the last 4 years I’ve had respondents from Alaska to Florida, Maine to California, even from Canada. No one from Hawaii, yet, but perhaps that will happen and I can drop off the tops in person, and practice the hulas I’ve learned over the years!

Anyway, I digress. Last month I received a note from a lady named Nancy Sturgeon, who had seen our blog and was offering to quilt for us. That name looked very familiar to me, so I did a little searching and discovered that Nancy and I belonged to the same guild, the Northern Illinois Long Arm Guild! I met Nancy for lunch and dropped off 6 tops, and was delighted at the next guild meeting when Nancy showed the lovely completed quilts at the guild’s Show and Tell. Nancy talked about Quilts Beyond Borders and mentioned the wonderful synergy of doing good for a needy child at the same time as you get to practice new techniques and enhance your skills. Nancy’s talk encouraged two other guild members to sign up to quilt some tops for us, and Nancy picked up 6 more tops to do for us before the next guild meeting.

Nancy did a wonderful job of the quilts, using a different technique for each of them. Click on the thumbnails below so you can see a close-up.

Thanks for doing such a great job of these, Nancy! I know the children will love them! And thanks so much for introducing QBB to our guild!


Quilts received from Sharon and Judy

August 9, 2011

This has been an interesting week, as I have been hearing quite a bit from people who lived in Ethiopia when I did. I attended the American Community School in Addis Ababa from first through third grade, and I hear there will be a reunion in 2013 in Addis for ACS students. Very exciting!

When I was a child in Addis, I was actually a very privileged kid. We lived in a great house with a very large yard, with a formal garden, a vegetable garden, and a playhouse large enough to host my school classes for birthday parties. Like many American kids whose parents worked for Ethiopian Airlines, we went back to the States every summer to stock up on school clothes and toys, and visit relatives. My grandmother, in Kansas, was a quilter, and like many quilters she saw the creation of quilts as an act of love. I’ve always thought of quilts as a “portable hug” because when wrapped in a quilt, you can always feel the love of the person who made it for you.

My grandmother made quilts for my sister and me which we kept on our beds, and which we still have to this day. Paula’s was a Chips and Whetstones quilt, and mine was a variegated 9-patch with alternate pink blocks between each scrappy 9-patch. I used to sit on my bed and find matching squares and triangles, made from my grandmother’s old clothes and from feed sacks. I spent a lot of time checking how those half-triangle squares fit together and checking out the colors that went well together and those that seemed discordant. It was actually very mentally stimulating. That quilt was, and still is, very special to me, both because I loved all the colors and fabrics, and because it symbolized my grandmother’s love for me.

In 2007 and 2008 QBB gave over 500 quilts to girls and boys in an orphanage in Addis. (If you click on the photo links on the left of this page you’ll be able to see pictures of the children in that orphanage.) While I wasn’t able to go on those trips, I know the children treasured those quilts, even more than I treasured the quilt from my grandmother. These children owned nothing else. Even their school uniforms were shared. And because there weren’t enough toys for all the children in the orphanage, the toys they did have were hung from the ceiling so all the children could see them. The quilts that are given to children by QBB are truly valued by these children, and it’s wonderful to see some of the quilts that we receive that will wrap them in love, inspire their sense of color and shape, and keep them warm at night.

Today’s featured quilts are quilted by Sharon Wilt and Judy Vliss (and a couple I did). Piecers include Richard and Martha, Carolyn and Allison.

The first two quilts were quilted by Judy Vliss. Judy is a hobby quilter who quilts for her family and a Women’s Crisis Center, as well as QBB. She believes that “those of us who have been blessed need to give back.” Well said, Judy! The quilts were pieced by Allison and Carolyn, and Judy finished them with big loopy meanders.

The next 3 quilts were quilted by Sharon Wilt, who has a business called Fabric Creations. The Hotwheels quilt was pieced by Richard from Texas, and was quilted by Sharon with swirls. The Cat quilt was pieced by Richard’s wife Martha, and Sharon quilted it with feathered motifs and wreaths in the orange blocks, meanders in the cat blocks. Martha also pieced the Indian center panel quilt, which Sharon quilted with meanders and leaves.

Martha also kitted up three more wholecloths with cheery fabric that was just too pretty to cut up, which Sharon quilted with loopy hearts and swirls.  Martha tells me that she and Richard are “trying to outdo each other” with quilt creation! Fabulous! They’ve done many quilts for us over the last year or so, and I know the children will love everyone of them!

These two quilts were quilted by me, with tops by Richard:

All of these quilts are great as “stashbusters”, and all of them will be greatly loved and appreciated by the children who will receive them. Thank you to all!


3 Cute Quilts Received from Sandy in Maine

July 8, 2011

One of the great things about working with Quilts Beyond Borders is that I get to open packages with lovely surprises all year round, instead of just on Christmas and Birthdays. Early this week the doorbell rang, the dogs broke into yelps of excitement, and I discovered a box on my front porch sent by Sandy Knox in Maine. Sandy had done some quilts for us earlier in the year, but I wasn’t on the receiving end, since they were sent to Carolyn who was headed to Ethiopia and collecting the quilts to take with her. This time I was the lucky one to be able to open the package. Yippee!

Sandy quilted these three tops with meanders, loops and stars, and they look very cheerful and playful. I know the children will love them!

This top was made by Mary S in California, and it really appeals to me that it was quilted by Sandy in Maine. Quilters from the far corners of the US collectively creating a soft and lovely quilt to provide warmth and comfort to a needy child on the other side of the world. Is this a great hobby, or what??

Quilt by Sandy & Mary

The next two quilts tops were not accompanied by information that identified the piecers. If you recognize them, let us know, and we’ll add the names to the labels.

Sandy, thank you very much for the lovely quilting.  I know the three children who receive these quilts will be very happy with them!



Tops with Borders Added

July 3, 2011

An earlier post showed tops made by Allison that needed to be enlarged.  Here is the link

The pictures below show what they look like now they have borders added.  Amazing what a difference borders can make.

Also, the top with yellow squares was made by Seiko.  She made this top while she and her husband lived here.  They have since returned to Japan.  She did a wonderful job in piecing this top.

These tops will be ready to go to some longarmers once I get them paired with backs.  I still have 4 more tops to bring up to size and then I’ll get all the tops paired with backs and let Carla know they are ready for longarmers.

Thanks Allison and Seiko.


Batik Beauty Received from Betty

June 28, 2011

Well, the weather is finally getting hot for the summer, and I’m spending every spare minute in my basement where I have my quilting studio set up. I’m trying to pull together about 50 quilts to take with me to Ethiopia in November.

Fortunately, I’m not doing it all alone. I often get help from my friends, Brenda and Cheryl. And my postman has been rather busy this month as well, bringing quilts and tops. I received one cute top from Lisa in Florida, which is on it’s way to a longarmer. Then I received 5 more wonderful tops from Donna in New York, which are in the process of being kitted up for sending to longarmers.

This week I received a very cute quilt from Betty in Missouri. Betty picked up some material for making it at the Houston International Quilt Festival in 2010, where we had a booth. Here’s a picture of that quilt:

Great thanks to Betty, Lisa and Donna for making my week! It’s so nice to open packages with the fruits of your labors and creativity! I know that the children who receive these lovely quilts will cherish them!

Readers, if there are some among you who have picked up kits from our booth in Houston to make tops, or if you’re among our longarmers and happen to have a pile of un-quilted tops waiting to be finished, or finished quilts hanging around waiting to be returned to us, take advantage of the opportunity to stay out of the summer heat and take the time to finish them up for us. We’d love to be able to take them with us when we go on our next trip to Ethiopia.

If you’re not sure where to send them, please contact me at and I’ll give you my address or the address of another volunteer who will be going with us.

Thanks very much!

Musings on Father’s Day

June 19, 2011

Father’s Day is always bittersweet for me, as my dad, Frank Triemer, passed away over 20 years ago.  He took our family to Ethiopia in the mid 1950’s, when I was two, on what was supposed to be a 3-year contract.  He went with the State Department on a mission to help the Ethiopians to build their airline, and after the first 3-year contract he remained there under contract to TWA for an additional 6 years.  I was 2 years old when I arrived there, so I spent the majority of my “Wonder Years” living in Addis Ababa.

Growing up there was, in retrospect, a true adventure, and completely unlike living would be in the US.  We went to American schools, first the Army Dependents school and then a missionary school, and my mother taught at both schools.  We had servants, not because we thought we needed them but because we were assured by fellow American ex patriots that it was the “right” thing to do — good for the people, good for the economy, and good for us.    My father, a man of sensible Kansas roots, made sure that we didn’t grow up being spoiled and “over-privileged”, that we would treat the household staff with respect and appreciate the work they did.   His efforts to make sure we didn’t grow up as whiny brats once led him, when I was whining that I didn’t have the “right” shoes for some occasion, to put me in the car and take me to the Mercato (the shopping area), to show me a beggar with no feet.   He always wanted to make sure we understood how lucky we really were.

My sister and I played with the children of the staff and the little Italian kids from across the street, speaking an amalgamation of three languages.  My father exposed us to cultures other than our own, taking us to countries on four continents to see the sights, hear the languages, taste the foods and experience the differences.   But he was always a proud American, a WW2 Marine who had fought at Iwo Jima, and while he was very proud of our travels and the world view we developed, he made sure we always understood our American heritage and that as Americans we had been born lucky, “the most fortunate people on earth.”

He took great pride and joy in the work he did at Ethiopian Airlines, really loved it and his American, European and Ethiopian co-workers.  His goal was to make sure it became a world-class airline, and I believe he and his coworkers were successful at that endeavor.  I very much look forward to flying on that airline when I return to Addis Ababa in November.   After 9 years in Ethiopia, when our family left there to move back to the States, the flight we took was entirely staffed by Ethiopians, from the maintenance, to the flight attendants, to the pilots.  This was the very first entirely Ethiopian-staffed flight, and it was a great tribute to my father and the work he did for Ethiopian Airlines.

Let’s take this Father’s day to appreciate the men in our lives, our fathers and our husbands.  Over the years I’ve seen a lot of quilters’ husbands with them at shows and shops.  Some of these fellows seem to attend to carry the bags, others are involved in picking out fabrics, and there are even a few who proudly wear the mantle “Quilter” — like the fellow I saw wearing a shirt that proclaimed, “No, I’m not a lost husband!  I’m a Quilter, too!

One of the male quilters I’d like to honor today is Richard Miller.  You’ve seen on past blog posts some of the tops that Richard has made for us.  I honestly don’t know how many he’s made, but I suspect it’s at least 30 in the last year or so.  Richards tops are always beautifully made, cheerful, colorful, and fun for both boys and girls.  He’s assisted in these endeavors by his wife, Martha, who has recently been making some tops herself.   Thanks to both of you!

I got the quilting gene from my father’s mother, and my husband, Cliff, was quite supportive of my picking up what he thought was a “nice cheap hobby.”  Yeah, right!  Thousands of dollars have been spent over the last 10 years, as my first quilt eventually turned into a voluminous stash,  several sewing machines, a mid-arm and a long-arm, and the construction to have the basement re-done as a quilting studio!  After the first year of my hobby, as it was becoming an obsession, Cliff started saying, “but how many quilts do we need?”  As he became concerned that we might run out of family members, I discovered Quilts Beyond Borders, which brought together my love of Ethiopia and Quilting.  How much better can it be than to be able to do something you really love, for children who need and will treasure the results of your work?   And the opportunity for me to do this for Ethiopian children is such a bonus.  I greatly appreciate my husband’s somewhat bemused support of my “nice cheap hobby”, and  he appreciates that I have an outlet for all these quilts!

Another quilters’ husband and father that I’d like to honor today is Rodger Fling.  His wife, Noreen, and daughter, Holly, are two of the founders (along with June Colburn) of Quilts Beyond Borders.  I suspect that Rodger initially thought, like Cliff did, that this charity would be a nice activity for his wife and daughter to be involved in.  While Cliff has the good fortune that I’ve only expanded my hobby to every square inch of the basement, Rodger’s entire life and house has been taken over by quilts.  At last count I believe Noreen had about 400 in various stages being prepared for transporting to Ethiopia, transporting to long armers, being kitted up for sewing at shows, being bound, etc., etc., etc.   Rodger recently completed building of shelves for holding and organizing some of these many quilts — which will probably free up many of the flat surfaces so they can be used.  For still MORE quilts!   I suspect when Rodger is finally transported to the pearly gates, on clouds of quilts, there will be a very BIG halo waiting for him.

I asked Noreen to tell me a few things about Rodger’s activities with QBB.  She replied, “Rodger is a big part of QBB. He has been involved with nearly all phases of QBB.  He started in 2007, cutting fabric, helping to sandwich fabric, batting and backs, and going to Houston International Quilt Show for two weeks.  Rodger  spent hours adding volunteer names to our the QBB data bank and he keeps our bank accounting.  Together we package quilts for shipping,  he gets to move everything.”

So, today on Father’s day, let me give a big “THANK YOU!” to Richard, Rodger, the fathers who made us who we are, and the husbands who put up with and support this magnificent creative obsession!

Now, let’s all go quilt!  Regards,


Karen’s account of the trip

June 7, 2011

I was on a flight to Frankfurt, Germany and then another to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  Others were somewhat shocked and frankly, it seemed very surreal to me.  This was a trip I had never dreamed of nor longed for but, apparently, it was my destiny.

I worried some about being recognized by the driver who would pick me up at the airport.  But, one of my friends noted that I would probably be the only white haired grandma in the airport.  I agreed this was probably true.  What a surprise to find a very “full” airport and almost all Americans!  I learned that all of these people were on some sort of volunteer mission for the Ethiopians.  Truly, I have never been prouder of my country than that moment.  The driver found me, I didn’t need to worry about that.

Four years prior, I had made an innocent query of my God, “I have lived the good life, is there nothing I can do for you?

Just months later, I was to join up  with Quilts Beyond Borders and became involved in creating about 100 quilts per year, much due to generous donations of my neighbors at Lake Cavanaugh, Gold Canyon Arizona and also famly in San  Diego.  The creation of those quilts was all by the quilters in Gold Canyon, AZ – about 2 dozen of them  Some went to Ethiopia and some went to tent city in Haiti. In all, we were always thrilled to see them go to those, in need.

So…, last December, I was asked to help deliver quilts.  I joined 3 others, whom I had never met and we met up at a guest house in Addis, spending the next week , delivering quilts and researching orphanages who might need them in the future. We visited 4 orphanages and one child care center (for 4000 children).

In all, I think we saw institutions representing around 5000 orphans.  We were  pleased to see the good care these children were getting, as well as good education.  There are 4 million orphans in Ethiopia.  If all get such good care, Ethiopia will have a bright future.

The highlight of the trip was the “quilt giving” ceremony at the Ahope orphanage.

The children 4-10 are in a facility referred to as Little Hope.  The older children, of course, reside at Big Hope.  We passed out quilts to all, and those smiles will never be erased from my mind.  These children do not own the clothes on their back, but they own their quilt and that is a true source of joy.

A group of 11 AHope children came to our guest house each night to learn hand sewing.  Eager and enthusiastic, they dived into the projects and left us scrambling for new projects the next night.  It was especially nice, to get to know them “one on one”  They are kids, just like other kids but maybe just a little vein of loneliness running through.  On the 5th night, we said goodbye, with sadness. But, we felt we had kindled a fire for sewing and we left them with all the supplies to continue on.

Into every life there is an angel and ours was Charlene, originally from Whidbey Isl.  She now lives in Addis and has become our liason.  She can find orphanages who need quilts, store quilts and dispense craft supplies to those who need.  She also loves our mission so it was great to have her rooting us on.

We went, not knowing, that AHope was an awesome orphanage, staffed by people who are not only intelligent but who really care about kids.  Big Hope’s kids were leaders and mentors for the Little Hope kids.   We didn’t measure up to all the Hope that was there, but we did wrap them in quilts; we put huge smiles on their faces and as the cold season approaches, they can snuggle in.

In Hope, Karen Vander Stoep