Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Africa - My Bucket List - My Dream - Our Opportunity

Imagine my thrill when I met a woman at Quilt Market, Rosemary Wissink, who will be leaving for Africa at the end of this month.  I was standing at the Cedar Canyon Textiles Booth talking with Shelly Stokes and she introduced me to Rosemary.  I had read about Shelly and Rosemary's trip to Africa while reading her blog awhile back. 

I told Rosemary that going to Africa is on my bucket list. I can not think of anything more incredible than to go and share the joy I find in sewing and quilting with other women who live there. She asked about my camera strap and I told her I whipped it up the night before I left because I needed one.  Rosemary asked if I would write a pattern so the women at Amni Ya Juu could make them to sell.   I was honored to think someone would want a pattern for something I made.....how cool is that?

I received a call from Rosemary one night while I was shopping for groceries. She told me she is leaving for Africa at the end of the month and the women at Amani Ya Juu need a Mid-Arm Quilt Machine.  They use the one they have there daily and it requires repairs that can not be done there.  She is working on getting the funding to purchase, at cost, a Nolting Mid-Arm Machine to take with her and she needs to raise 2800.00.
I asked her to send me an e-mail and this is an excerpt of that e-mail
I have been traveling to Kenya since 2000 after my daughter challenged me to live out a mission statement on my quilt patterns, I basically started the business to connect with other women and encourage them. After my partner left I decided to continue the business to be able to help other women especially my stitchin sisters in Africa. Having made 4 trips there I have seen incredible changes in the women by empowering them with skills and teaching them not only to sew and make products but to market their goods and learn life skills. Most of theses women are the sole providers and support extended family members, sending their children to school and helping each other through the tough times. They have overcome so much in their lives,poverty, war, ethnic cleansing,abuse and neglect. I wondered when I went what ever would I have in common with them. It was amazing to to me to see more commonalities than differences. We all long to be loved, have families, desire the best for our children, to have strong friendships , to help others and the list goes on and on. I have learned so much form them about what really is important. Even though I have helped them by providing tools and skills it is my presence and the fact that I care that makes our relationship so special. My desire to make a difference has truly been lived out through my experience, however they have given me so much more than I could give.
About 3 years ago another women from Ohio, Sandi Stolzfus who had lived in Kenya previously asked if I would help get a long arm frame and sewing machine to Kenya. I almost laughed thinking that is impossible! However we did get the frame shipped over in a crate of airplane parts and I brought the Nolting fun quilter inside my suit case. Having little experience with long arm quilting God provided a quilting instructor and she taught 3 women over a 2 week period. They have developed their skills and are sewing and quilting doing amazing work . The machine has been sewed on daily by and variety of women and they have literally worn it out. We tried to get parts sent and to have it fixed but to no avail. I asked the dealer if he had another used or refurbished machine he could sell me to bring and then I would bring the other home for rebuilding. The Nolting machine has been set aside for me and I can pick it up a week before I leave for Africa. The cost is 2800.00
Asante sana, Thank you so very much! Sincerely, Rosemary Wissink

Here are some samples of the women's work in Africa and is available for sale on their website

I had the choice at that point to say "sorry I can't help I'm too busy" which would be more than true....or to do what I can in the short amount of time we have to help.  I'm going to contribute to the price of the Mid-Arm Quilting Machine for those women in Africa as an act of gratitude for all that I have here in Ohio.   I have contacted several other women whom I trust who have been involved with this project and they tell me 100% of the money goes directly to the source....there is no "administrative costs."  Why not join me in helping too?  Lets see if we can make a difference.....perhaps you will be going to a guild meeting this week....can you pass the hat? Ask your family to donate in honor of your birthday instead of giving you a gift? Put three items back on the grocery store shelf and donate that amount?  Sell an old sewing machine that you don't use and donate the profit? 

Me, I'm going to go door to door and tell each of my neighbors that if they don't donate....I'm going to drive my lawn mower down the middle of the street nude each day for a month.....I bet that alone makes their wallets fly open!!! (fiction)

Lets Have A Notion to Make A Difference for The Women of Amani Ya Juu......please send me an e-mail to IHaveANotion@yahoo.com with Africa in the subject line with the amount of your donation and contact information.....lets see what we can do to get that Mid-Arm Machine to those women in Africa....what do you say?  I thought that is what you would say :)



  1. That is exactly what they are trying to achieve here in Amerika Samoa with the non profit groups that I am involved in. How amazing. I went to the site and tried to order but they don't even have a spot for Amerika Samoa. Oh well....

  2. This is a wonderful project. Thank you for bringing it to our attention.
    Do you have a paypal account where we can send a donation? Can you put a "donate" button on your blog? that would make it so much easier to send something.

  3. Oh Kelly,
    That story just really hits home and I would like you to clear away those items from your desk as I will send the check, but it is to be sent to that lady for the quilting machine! What a mission and I would love to be apart of it!
    hugz, Pam

  4. Kelly,

    I leave tomorrow to live in South Africa, so if you visit... let me know. I will be there 5 years.

    Beth- Near Chicago (7/1 Pretoria, South Africa!!)


Thank you for reading the IHAN Blog. I love getting and reading every comment that is left here; however I may not be able to respond to all comments left during giveaways. There are times when I am juggling many tasks at one time and may not reply to all comments. Please e-mail me at quiltnotions@gmail.com if you need a reply quickly. I thank you for your understanding and-
More Later-Beth

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