At our last support group meeting, a representative from the National Health Insurance System came to the meeting and registered all of our women. This is the result of the decision made by the Kenya Community Based Organization that all our women should have one year of health insurance paid for by QFE. This recognizes the importance of health in becoming and remaining empowered. During this year of QFE coverage, women will be encouraged to put money aside from their income-generating projects so they can continue to be insured.
At the Women Deliver Conference in Vancouver BC, Mary Ann met up with, from her left: Lindsey Pollaczek, VP of Programs at Fistula Foundation; Kate Grant, CEO of Fistula Foundation; and Edna Adan, founder and director of the Edna Adan Hospital in Somaliland. Edna has been called the Mother Teresa of Fistula. What an honor to be with and work with these incredible women. Fistula is a small world made up of amazing people.
All our quilters attended a two-day training about budgeting, savings, and business planning facilitated by our Program Director, Norah. All of the material was a new concept for them. Role play, singing and dancing all helped communicate the importance of planning how to spend their money. At the end, every woman wrote a simple business plan for how she was going to invest the money she received from their income-generating support group. Most planned to buy livestock, like chickens or goats. In a few months, one of our Community Based Organization Board members will visit all the women to see how they are doing and make sure the money was invested as planned.
This spring our women made 900 bags for the World Forum Foundation Global Meeting. During the Closing Plenary they asked delegates to hold up their bags so they could take a photo for the women who made the bags. We received this letter from Bonnie Neugebauer with the photo:
I am thinking about you tonight as I am reflecting on many of the precious moments of the 2019 World Forum in Macao. I want to be sure that you realize how deeply grateful we are to you for the beauty and joy and pleasure that you brought into our experience. Delegates were so pleased to be gifted these handmade bags that connected each of us in a very sensory way to Africa, to Kenya, to you. It is as though you spoke to us through your craft. We enjoyed the photos and videos that Norah sent along the way — it was a pleasure to see you, of course, and piles of fabric. And then the piles of fabric got smaller and the stack of completed bags grew! It was exciting. And the videos invited us to be for a moment with you, singing, laughing, talking as you worked. This was a huge challenge that you accepted and you achieved it! Congratulations.
We recognize that you have had challenges in your lives and we hope that life will be somehow kinder.
Please know that your bags will become part of delegates lives in 71 countries around the world and that they will keep our memories vibrant and remind us of the work we did in Macao and of you and your gifts to us.
With respect and gratitude,
World Forum Foundation
Co-Founder and Director of Program Development
We recently received a huge box of embroidery floss to QFE with this lovely letter:
Dear Quilts for Empowerment Staff,
My dear mother passed away recently at the age of 89. She was a lifelong knitter and embroiderer, who loved making things with her hands. During WW II she worked as a volunteer who knitted socks for soldiers, and vests for sailors. In later years she made sweaters, embroidered pictures, hats and blankets for everyone in her life, including blankets for people who lost everything in Hurricane Sandy. In short – she was passionate about her work and doing things for others; she had a lot of materials, and she left behind quite a few items.
Enclosed please find several hundred skeins of embroidery floss. I’ve done my best to sort by color (your photos online inspired me to try to help you with that task in advance!) and at the bottom of the box is a small bag with some ‘tangled’ floss that I didn’t want to throw away just in case. I hope your students and clients are able to put these items to good use. Thank you for giving a home to some of my mom’s most precious possessions – she was never happier than when she was making something for another person. It sounds as if the good you’re doing for women in African is instilling those skills – and that empowerment – in the people you support.
Kathy Powell made this quilt, incorporating one of our story quilts (shown below the larger quilt) that she bought at the NW Quilt Expo last year. She made the quilt at a class taught by Janet Sorton of Sisters, Oregon. Janet teaches quilting to women in Uganda.
Our 900 bags arrived safely in Macao for the World Forum Foundation Global Meeting. A huge thanks to Norah and our women in Kenya for pulling off this amazing feat.
QFE is honored to welcome the Smyrna United Church of Christ Church in Canby Oregon as a partner. The church was formed in 1891 by homesteaders and respect for diverse beliefs and a common desire to act for the well-being of others have been guiding principles ever since.
We are delighted to welcome 9 year old Rose, our fourth young sexual assault survivor to our safe home in Kenya. She was brought to us by Child Welfare after a brutal life of multiple types of abuse wearing her only dress. A few days later, she was proudly wearing her school uniform and walked to school with our other three assault survivors and Norah’s kids where she tested in grade three. Norah’s kids have adopted their new siblings with grace and enthusiasm. They all eat, play, study and go to school as a family. Norah is our Program Director and is raising 9 nonbiological children. Soon after Rose arrived, Norah treated all the kids to a breakfast of cornflakes. As seen in the photo, they were a big hit.
Join us for the “Hope After Fistula” reception hosted at Gwynn’s Coffeehouse (190 NW 2nd Ave. Canby, OR 97013) on Saturday, March 23rd from 2pm-5pm. We will have a quilt display alongside live harp music, showcasing quilts from fistula survivors that share their stories through this beautiful art form. The display will run from March 17th until the 31st. Stop by to learn more and support these strong women in their journey to wholeness.