Friday, December 21, 2012

Yes You Can -- Quilts Beyond Borders Blesses Burundian Orphans

The youngest children of Burundian widows don't have too much that they can really call their own. Mostly what they have has been handed down to them by somebody else. But 300 youngsters whose mothers are part of Sister Connection each have a colorful quilt, made for them with love by Quilts Beyond Borders and carried into the country by the members of our team that traveled to Burundi in July.

Sister Connection's US director, Denise Patch (good name for a quilting story, don't you think), contacted our team in April. She'd been offered child-sized quilts for the kids we'd be working with; could we each carry 25 in our luggage? Well, who could refuse a request like that? Of course we would!

Nearly half of those quilts ended up at my house and I got to hold each one, examine their unique styles and colors, and marvel at the creativity and love that went into each one. I laid them across the back of the sofa and took photos of them in the early morning sunlight. I packed up boxes to send to other team members and I rolled and folded the quilts I would carry into Burundi myself. 

We arrived in Burundi and were at the Widows' Retreat with 300 women and their young children. When the announcement was made about the quilts, the mothers and children rushed to the corner of the church where they would be distributed. I made my way outside so I could photograph kids as they came out of the building carrying their quilts. Here are some of the pictures, taken by various team members.

I loved being a part of this wonderful gift to these beautiful children. But I wondered about the people who had made the quilts. So I decided to choose a quilt and follow it from its creation to the child who would receive it. Here's the story of the bug jar quilt, as told by quilter Sue Seward:
I was in a quilt group for several years with my friend Mary Jane (MJ) Morrison.... She had quite a long fight with cancer, and after she died in June, 2011, her husband Ed asked me to help sort and deal with her quilting stash/tools/machines, etc. There were four of us who took on the project of distributing her collection, which filled the basement of a rather large house. We sorted fabric, notions, projects, art supplies, book, yarn, etc. for 4 days, leaving each day with our vehicles loaded with stuff to donate various places. We donated yards and yards of fabrics to local quilt/sewing groups: a church group that makes quilts to sell, the porceeds going towards the support of a homeless shelter; a grop that makes quilts for children and donates them to the children's hospitals in Colorado; Quilts of Valor; the living skills department of the local high school...
Then we went through the Works in Progress. Ed chose several quilt tops or sets of blocks that he wanted finished for their family...The rest of the projects, and a lot of yardage for backs, mostly came to my house...MJ was a big fan of bug-jar and I-Spy quilts, so she had lots of precut blocks for those... Since last summer I have been working to create finished quilts out of the blocks MJ made. To date [June] I have finished 8 quilts that have been donated to Quilts of Valor to go to our country's service men and women. I finished and delivered 7 quilts to Quilts Beyond Borders at the International Quilt Festival in Houston in November, 2011, and 18 quilts that I sent to you in April this year for delivery to Burundi...
MJ would be very pleased to know that her quilts are making it around the world and touching so many lives. I am thrilled to be part of making that happen.
MJ and Sue's Bug-Jar Quilt

The girl who received the Bug-Jar Quilt

Do you have a passion, something that you just love to do? If you are not already doing so, can you use that passion to bless others? MJ and Sue -- just two women with a passion, teaming up with like-minded people, crazy for quilts, getting their quilts into the hands of people who will benefit from what they do for the love of it. You can use your passion to bless others. Yes you can!

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