January 16, 2013

Peace Through Pieces: A Quilting Ministry in Africa

Our last posting introduced the Stone Soup Quilting Ministry of the North Seattle Friends Church in Washington.  This Quaker ministry makes and provides over 100 quilts a year to patients of the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and their families.  The ministry's purpose is to demonstrate care and provide comfort to those suffering from cancer and other serious diseases.

Patty Federighi is Director of Quilting Ministries for the North Seattle Friends.  Yes, Ministries.  Plural.  While corresponding with Patty about their Stone Soup activities, she mentioned another quilting ministry conducted by the North Seattle Friends - this one in Africa.

Expanding on the peace and healing that both quilt makers and recipients had experienced through the work of the Stone Soup Quilting Ministry, Patty began a program called Peace Through Pieces that is being conducted with Trauma Healing and Reconciliation Services (THARS) in Burundi.  The purpose of this quilting ministry is to "work with their women's support groups to add one more tool of trauma healing to their tool kit."

Central Africa has been plagued by inter-ethnic group conflict for decades, producing traumatic events in the lives of approximately one out of five people in the area.  THARS was established to help heal the trauma experienced by individuals and to facilitate reconciliation of the ethnic groups so they may work together for a better future.  Patty says:  "We started working with THARS about six years ago after an initial visit to Burundi to see if the women were interested in learning quilt making and to find out if the materials and supplies needed for quilt making were available in this extremely poor country.  Both questions were answered with a resounding 'Yes!'"

Students display their quilts at the first Peace Through Pieces training
 in Burundi, December 2006.  Photograph courtesy of Patty Federighi and the 
North Seattle Friends Quilting Ministries.

The THARS organization selected two people each from seven support groups and two women from Burundi Yearly Meeting to gather with teachers from the North Seattle Friends.  These teachers were Carolann Palmer, a well-known quilt maker, teacher, and quilt book author, and Patty.  Carolann and Patty each took one group of eight students and provided a week-long workshop teaching simple quilt making from start to finish.

Julienne and Gasiride sew binding by hand at a workshop in Burundi.  
Photograph courtesy of Patty Federighi and the North Seattle 
Friends Quilting Ministries.

The students initially trained by Carolann and Patty took their newly learned skills back to their respective support groups and taught their friends what they had learned.  According to Patty, "These groups, made up of mostly poor, mostly victims of the conflicts, many rape victims, mostly uneducated women, experienced creativity and success and were soon the envy of the villages they live in."

Patty has returned to Burundi four times since the first workshop six years ago and has directed two additional week-long workshops (one in Burundi and one in Congo), and one ten-day workshop in Burundi. Through these workshops, the students have expanded on the skills learned in simple quilt making.  They are now equipped to make smaller crafts that can be sold in the region to help make the program self-sufficient. These items include tote bags, aprons, pot holders, school uniforms, girls' dresses, women's handbags, school back packs, table linens, and more.  The women have also selected other work projects they can do together to improve their lives.  These include gardening, goat-raising, basket weaving, and soap making.

Support group members work together on a quilt at the THARS training
center near Gitega, Burundi, Octobert 2009.  Photograph courtesty of
Patty Federighi and the North Seattle Friends Quilting Ministries.

Quilters learn machine-piecing at a training at the Friends Peace Center
near Uvira, Democratic Republic of the Congo, October 2009.  Photograph
by Osborn Bulimu, THARS Intern.  Courtesy of Patty Federighi.

Veraste and Claudette work together at the second quilting training near
 Gitega, Burundi. Photograph courtesy of Patty Federighi and the North Seattle
Friends Quilting Ministries.

Quilt show in Burundi, June 2008.  Photograph courtesy of Patty Federighi
and the North Seattle Friends Quilting Ministries.

For more information about THARS, go to http://www.THARS.org.  If you want to know more about the Peace Through Pieces quilting ministry, contact Patty Federighi at pattyf@northseattlefriends.org.

Textual material and photographs provided by Patty Federighi.

(c)  Lynda Salter Chenoweth and Mary Holton Robare, 2013.


January 1, 2013

The Stone Soup Quilting Ministry

Since the founding of the Religious Society of Friends, Quaker women have engaged in altruistic and philanthropic activities to better the lives of others.  One of our recent postings described the work of Philadelphian Ann Parrish who, with like-minded Quaker women, founded The House of Industry to employ poor women, as well as the Aimwell School for the Free Instruction of Females to provide girls in poverty with the opportunity for education.  The concern for others that inspired these late 18th and early 19th century endeavors still motivates women in the Quaker community to help and comfort people in crisis or in unfortunate circumstances.

The Stone Soup Quilting Ministry is a modern-day example of an effort to provide care and comfort to those in need.  Associated with The Quaker Quilting Center of North Seattle Friends Church in Seattle, Washington, the ministry is a large, well-organized volunteer effort that produces approximately 100 quilts per year for long term cancer patients of the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and for members of their families.  This Alliance, comprised of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the University of Washington Medical Center, and Seattle's Children's Hospital and Medical Center, conducts leading-edge research dedicated to eliminating cancer and related diseases, improving treatment and prevention, and caring for short- and long-term cancer patients.  Long-term cancer patients cared for by these facilities are usually far from home while experiencing medical crises that affect their entire families.

Entramce to the North Seattle Friends Church in Seattle, Washington.  Photograph
courtesy of the North Seattle Friends Church.
Just some of the quilts made by The Stone Soup Quilting Ministry members and
volunteers since 2004.  All photographs courtesy of The Stone Soup Quilting Ministry.
The organization of the huge volunteer effort that produces so many quilts is based on a fable about "stone soup".  The fable has passed down through time attributed to having occurred in various locales including Russia, Civil-War-Era America, and even Northern Kenya.  The story, as told on the North Seattle Friends web site, is about Russian soldiers begging food from the impoverished peasantry in a war-ravaged countryside and being refused at every turn.  Undaunted, the soldiers began to ask one after another household to contribute just a small amount of whatever they had toward the making of a mysterious soup of stones that would nourish the whole village.  The word passed, everyone shared something, and by the end of the day the stone soup had turned into a meal for all to enjoy.  According to the web site, "The soldiers' needs were generously met; no one had given more than he could afford to give; a spirit of community had been revivied; and people had acted on their natural sense of compassion."
The Stone Soup Quilting Ministry manages to produce large numbers of quilts by dividing the work into many small segments and asking each of the volunteer quilters for only a small commitment toward the completion of each quilt.  As stated on the Ministry web site: "The Christian directive to 'comfort the afflicted' is shared by people of all spiritual traditions.  We know that our quilts, given freely to cancer patients of the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance are indeed a source of both physical and spiritual comfort.  The surprise has been in the blessed and enriched lives of the quilt makers!"
If you would like to donate 100% cotton fabric or contribute time to the quilt making of The Stone Soup Quilting Ministry, contact Patty Federighi at (206) 522-6513 in Seattle or send an email to Patty at pattyf@northseattlefriends.org.  Learn more about the North Seattle Friends and The Stone Soup Quilting Ministry by visiting http://www.northseattlefriends.org.
Personal correspondence with Patty Federighi.
(c)  Lynda Salter Chenoweth and Mary Holton Robare, 2013.