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.
We are pleased to announce that Courtney Anderegg has joined our Board of Directors. Courtney is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication, Journalism, and Cinematic Arts at George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon. Courtney will be providing direction for our public relations activities as we develop our engagement with the local community.
QFE has a new logo. It was inspired by the “spiral” that women spontaneously embroider in their story quilts. We thought it signified wind, but we were wrong. When asked, our quilters described it as their spirit, their journey to healing, being lifted up, and hope. Justine Hostetler, our artistic communications intern, incorporated the spiral and cleverly included a line to make a “Q” and completed the logo with our name.
We will always be fond of our old logo, which was from one of our earliest art quilts. We think our new logo more effectively communicates our story of empowerment.
A fortuitous meeting between Bonnie Neugebauer, Mary Ann McCammon and Deb Sorem at the 2018 Sisters Outdoor Quilt show has been a windfall for QFE. Bonnie, who with her husband is a co-founder of the World Forum Foundation, wondered if QFE could make conference bags for their meeting in Macau China in April 2019. She wanted to use the bright fabric we use for our table mats, and she needed 900 bags delivered to China.
After a lot of calculating, we entered into an agreement to have our women make the bags and get them to China for the meeting. Fabric was purchased in October in Uganda where it is cheaper. Deb crafted a design and taught Norah how to make the bags while she was in the US in November. A second sewing machine was purchased in January and the women were off and sewing!
The first bag
was made by our lead seamstress Carol who quickly came up with a production scheme
and one bag has become over 200. She was soon joined by Metrine, another trained seamstress.
We are in business!
Norah began teaching other women to precision cut,
iron, trim threads and help with production.
These dedicated women spent a week living in our apartment making bags. We provided mattresses, blankets, slippers, hot showers, and food. They provided the music.
In addition to the needed income, our women experienced support from each other and Norah. One had just returned from a successful surgery after years of suffering. They are deeply grateful for this opportunity.
We are honored to collaborate with the World Forum Foundation and develop our skills and a reputation for completing commissions that will benefit our women.
The first week of January, QFE achieved their goal of providing safe shelter and education to young sexual assault survivors. We welcomed three young girls to live with us and attend school. Two are 9 & 10 year old sexually assaulted sisters that only had the filthy clothes on their backs when we picked them up. Neither had ever worn shoes or socks or had enough to eat.
Within a few hours, soap and water made a big difference and an exam at the hospital cleared them of any diseases. But, they were obviously still dazed.
Two days later, they went to school in borrowed clothes and smiles were beginning to emerge.
They are joined by another 10 year old
whose mother brought her to us for safety reasons following an attempted rape. She immediately fit right in with Norah’s children.
All three are attending a private school with Norah’s children and are thrilled with their school uniforms,
seen with Esther, the tutor we have hired for them. They are also absolutely delighted to be mothers to dolls that were donated by caring nurses in California.
All three girls have sponsors in the US who are paying for their school fees and upkeep. Our commitment is to see them through high school.
Norah reports they are all happy and blending in well with her children. Our girls live in an apartment next to Norah where they are supervised by a house matron. Since our office apartment is on the same floor, and all the doors stay open, there is laughter and smiles all up and down the hallway. We are blessed to have this opportunity to provide safety, education, and love to these precious young girls.
Quilts for Empowerment ends 2018 with enormous gratitude to everyone who has supported us this past year. We met our fundraising goal of having 2019’s operating expenses “in the bank” – thanks to generous donors and people who bought our quilted products. Many did both. We have engaged new partners in our work including several churches, the Wildflower Studio in Sisters, The White Rabbit Bakery, George Fox University, and numerous individuals. Our quest for donated embroidery floss has brought contributions from Hawaii to Nebraska. We have also been blessed with numerous acts of kindness: an electric blanket for Norah who couldn’t get warm in Oregon; donated food and wine for our Benefit; dozens of cookies during Norah’s stay here; and hospitality for Norah in California that included snow in Yosemite.
We have exciting plans for 2019 – so continue to follow us here and on social media.
Quilts for Empowerment’s Program Director, Norah Otondo, made a powerful impression during her 10 days in Oregon. Her five public presentations about her own experience as a fistula survivor and the impact QFE is having on fistula survivors in Kenya reached out to over 200 individuals.
Her first appearance was at our Annual Benefit November 3rd. Despite being jet-lagged and very cold, Norah was amazing. After being introduced by Program Founder, Mary Ann McCammon,
Norah was welcomed by Stephanie Guieb from Hawaii.
Stephanie had a special gift for Norah in addition to lots of embroidery floss she brought from donors in Hawaii. Stephanie and the Fiddlestickstoo thread shop in Honolulu have, and continue to collect pounds of embroidery floss for us.
The next day, Norah was featured at a reception at First Unitarian Portland, where she spoke and answered many questions about fistula and our program.
Later in the week, Norah spoke at George Fox University to a packed room of students.
Sunday, November 11th began with Norah giving the sermon at Christ Lutheran Church in Aurora.
Her message was about the importance of hope, not only for fistula survivors, but for everyone. Christ Lutheran is a valuable community partner. Later in the day, Norah spoke to a standing room only audience at the White Rabbit Bakery in Aurora. The Bakery is another significant community partner. Afterwards, Norah finally admitted to being tired.
Someone asked Norah at the Bakery event about the differences she has experienced since being in Oregon and outside of Africa for the first time. Her immediate response was: “Men in the kitchen.” All week she had seen men cooking and cleaning up in kitchens. She also observed that “there are more cars than people here.”
Norah’s time with us confirmed several things: the power of hope and love to change the lives of fistula survivors; the importance of the growing community of individuals and organizations that support our work; and the power we each have to make a difference.
QFE reminds supporters about two events that are coming up in November.
Annual Benefit: November 3, 2018, 2-4 pm. QFE's annual fundraiser will again be at the Wine Country Barn, 16200 Lewis Rogers Lane, Newberg. You will have the opportunity to shop our products and bid on a variety of silent auction items. Norah Otondo, our Kenyan Program Director, will keynote this event. Registration and early bird tickets are available at Eventbrite.com for $30. Hosted food and wine will be provided. Please download our flyer for details about the Benefit.
Reception for Norah Otondo: November 11, 2018, 2-4 pm. This will be another opportunity to meet Norah and learn more about how QFE has impacted Norah's life and the lives of women with obstetric fistula in Kenya. Norah is traveling outside Africa for the first time ever. The reception will be held at White Rabbit Bakery, 21368 Pacific Hwy E, Aurora. Light refreshments will be provided.