Quilting for Charity
In tune with the spirit of giving at this time of year, I wanted to write about the charity with which I’m most involved. My association with Selenge Tserendash and women at the New Way Life NGO Mongolian Quilting Center continues and I raise funds, (around $10,000 per year), from donations and selling their products when I travel to teach. See the Mongolian pages on my website more details. To make a tax deductible donation, click here. Earlier this month, we participated in Christmas in the Country on Bainbridge Island. This event has several locations each with 10-15 booths and is very popular. St. Barnabas Church hosted Christmas in the Country for the first time this year, and since they are also the guardians of our Mongolian funds, it made perfect sense to have our booth there.
It is thrilling and inspiring for me to see the level to which the Mongolian women have taken their quilting and product development. Nine years have elapsed since my first trip to Mongolia when I taught them very basic quilting techniques. Since then several other volunteers have taught there and the women have become increasingly creative and resourceful. They now have a designer at the Center, a manager, three seamstresses and five part-time teachers. As many as 35 women do piece work at home, such as the silk blocks, which they bring to the Center for the seamstresses to assemble into the products.
I encouraged them to work with silk which the tourists love. Selenge discovered that the garment factory making silk deels, (tunics worn by Mongolians), was burning their leftover scraps or sending them to the land fill. At first they gave her their scraps, but then began charging a small amount after they saw the beautiful items the women were making. The women use even the smallest scraps to make crazy patchwork cosmetic bags, change purses and Log Cabin blocks for long-handled denim purses. Our top selling items were the felted slippers, the silk squares with fan or Twisted Log Cabin blocks and the Log Cabin denim purses.
Total takings for the 3-day event were $1,460. The silk wall hangings shown here were designed and made at the Center. I think they are absolutely beautiful and I’m so proud of Selenge Tserendash and the Mongolian women
It was a particularly busy weekend for me as in addition to running the booth, I sang in three concerts and two Sunday services. I couldn’t have managed without John and Nancy Watts from Portland who helped me set up and kept everything going when I couldn’t be there. We became good friends after Nancy (Watts) saw me talking about the Mongolia project on the Nancy’s Corner part of Sewing with Nancy (Nancy Zieman). Nancy and John were interested in going to Mongolia and came to visit me to get more information. Two years ago they made their trip and Nancy taught at the Mongolian Quilting Center in Ulaanbaatar. Last year, Nancy and I coordinated the special exhibit of Mongolian quilts at the Sisters Quilt Show in OR and hosted Selenge Tserendash from Mongolia. Nancy came with me to Quilt Market in Portland this spring and we ran into Nancy Zieman who was amazed to hear this story. In September, John and Nancy went to Wisconsin and were interviewed by Nancy Zieman on Nancy’s Corner. The program has just been aired and you may click here to see the video.