Friday, April 1, 2011

Why Donate Quilts Overseas?

I've been praying over whether or not I should write this post as I usually avoid writing any negative posts and prefer to focus on what is good and positive. However I've decided to tell you about the event and see if any of you have any comments.
Recently I heard from a NZ quilter who told me that I have offended the quilters in her country by sending quilts to Christchurch. She said they have plenty of quilt guilds and quilters who will be making and donating quilts and I should focus on my own country, Australia. In fact she said that if they received a quilt from me that people would be very offended! She did tell me that the people need money but if I wanted to knit and send beanies and scarves that would be OK, which was interesting as I know that there are also many knitters in NZ.

I've been pondering this off and on since and spoke with Cat about it on Skype this morning. Cat has the contacts who are asking for quilts, baby items and knitted hats and scarves etc and although the avenue we were going to use to ship quilts to her has become difficult at the moment, I have started to post quilts off to her. For me it is important to work with people who have the local contacts and to make sure that the quilts are given out directly to the people who need them. Cat told me that although they aren't featuring in the world news, things are still far from settled in Christchurch and as an example a midwife she knows has given up 3 weeks of her holidays to work in Christchurch as the midwives there are exhausted. The areas hit the hardest are where the people have the least resources of their own.

It's interesting that the blogging world has connected so many women from around the world and the response to my request for QAYG blocks has resulted in very generous donations from around the world. As Cat said, many quilters don't belong to quilt guilds, or they don't have contact with other quilters other than through the internet and our World of Blogs. Really I think it's due to so many of you sharing information and blog sites that we get such a wonderful response to our request to help make quilts to donate to others.

Thanks to one of my blog readers I've even had requests for quilts for Japan and although it won't be cheap to post them I will be sending some over as soon as they are in a position to receive them and I thank Sandra very much for her input on what colours would be most appropriate for the Japanese people.

This donating of comfort quilts was never meant to be about me and in fact I only started to blog and talk about it to encourage others to do the same in whatever way they are able to make a difference in their own communities.
I actually pray that the quilts will reach where they will do the most good and I used to pray for fabric but now I'm praying for money to buy batting and pay for postage etc. I told Cat I would pray for a solution for sending the quilts to NZ and at the Retreat last week I received some wonderful donations of money which will enable me to donate more quilts overseas. When my prayers are answered I know that I need to continue what I'm doing by bringing comfort to others. I call them "Comfort Quilts" because they are intended as a gift and maybe the NZ quilter sees them as charity which was never intended. I'm a bit puzzled as I'm so very grateful for all the help that has been given to me with Oz Comfort Quilts and the response has been wonderful from New Zealand even though there is obviously a need in their own country.

So I'm wondering have I offended quilters by sending the quilts overseas? So far I've sent quilts to Kosovo, Bosnia, China, India, Sth America, Armenia, USA, and East Timor. I think I may have forgotten a few places but if I hear of a group which has asked for quilts then I post what I can afford to send. I know that the need is great here in parts of Australia but I decide what goes where based on the need as well as the thickness of batting. I send a maximum of 70 to 80 at any one time so that the organization has the time to distribute them before I send more. Of course that was different with the quilts for the Australian bush fire appeal where I was delivering 200 quilts very 3 to 4 weeks.
So I hope I'm not offending people by donating Comfort Quilts and I'd be interested in any responses. If this blog message offends I apologize as that wasn't the intention.
In the meantime the quilts continue to leave here to help others and I have my DH working to make a blog button so that anyone who wishes to will be able to donate a few dollars into a Paypal account.
Take care and have fun with your quilting,
Hugs Jan Mac


Nanette said...

Oh Jan, these mean spirited people seem to like to pop up on blogs all over the place, and distress fine people who are doing wonderful things. Who knows what inspires them...but what's important is what inspires you, and I think unless you're getting complaints regularly that suggest you're offending recipients, no matter what country they're in, then keep doing what your heart tells you is right.

I'm sure if I were in need and received a handmade comfort quilt, I'd be over the moon, as I'm sure all your recipients are, not nit picking over where it came from, except to feel humbled and honoured that someone far away was generous enough to do something so wonderful for a stranger/s.

I think until you hear from actual recipients that they're offended, not one quilter who is supposedly speaking for all NZ quilters ??.... keep doing your inspired work.

Kate said...

Dear Jan - there will always be a few people who disagree with anything, and who interpret the best intentions through a negative lens. Just shake this off - you are doing fabulous work - there is plenty of need in the world for "comfort" - no one need own a corner of the world. Enjoy making and giving your wonderful comfort quilts, knowing that the recipients will love them dearly.

Maria said...

Dear Jan,
You do the most wonderful work distributing comfort quilts to the folk that need them.That is why people send QAYG blocks, money and quilts to you because you do such a great job and know who could use the comfort of a quilt.
Ignore the negative as we all think your work is so positive.


Catherine said...

Jan **hugs** I didn't realize when we spoke this morning you'd taken this single remark so personally and I wish I was there to give you a BIG hug. I had a FAMILY MEMBER comment in December that the only reason I made Quilts for Christchurch was for my own personal goal! As both you and I know the time and energy and love we put into these quilts HOW can we be doing it for any reason other than LOVE?! I am with the other ladies who have commented IGNORE this silly comment and I can confirm as a NZ'er that the feedback I am getting is so appreciative and positive and the quilts are welcomed and loved. Wrapped in love from woman all around the world.
Keep up the good work and another BIG HUG xxx

Anonymous said...

I cant imagine anyone being insulted by being given a lovely quilt.
ignore her.

Seaside Siblings said...

Hi Jan.
I am from Christchurch and actually received 2 of Cat's quilts after the first earthquake here. One was made my an New Zealander and the other came from Europe. When I received the quilts I cried as the thought and kindness which had gone into making these quilts for my girls just blew me away. After the second quake here, I did not have the opportunity to get much from my house as it was too dangerous but I did manage to grab the 2 quilts and used them to keep my little girls warm that night. My 3 year old daughter in particular is very attached to her quilt. It really does provide her with the comfort and security for which it was intended.

Here in Christchurch, the weather is starting to get cold at night, may homes in the eastern suburbs have lost their chimneys and power is often intermittent making electric heating difficult. Comfort quilts have the potential to keep many little children warm on these cold winters nights which lie ahead of us.

I wonder if the quilter who contacted you lives in Christchurch, or if she is a mother, wondering how she is going to keep her little ones warm. I think not because speaking as a Christchurch mother I can honesty say I thank God for the beautiful people whom made my girls their quilts. I don't care where they came from, they are amazing, wonderful people and I will forever be grateful to them for their kindness.

Doreen G said...

Jan like everyone else I say to ignore this person but I know that it is hard for you to do because you have donated these quilt made with love to help ease their pain.
I think this person is narrow minded and I am sure that she is not speaking for anyone other that herself.Please don't let one persons attitude affect the God given talent that you have.

Cassandra said...

Jan, we are behind you 100% in your tireless efforts to send comfort to distressed people. When Canberra burnt, us quilters galvanised into action and I made sure I met some people who had lost everything (down to pets and handbag, underwear and tax details) and let them choose from the quilts I was personally involved it. For them, they said it was the first memento post-disaster, representing all that had gone before and thus precious. There was talk a few months later of a few of those same (100s of) quilts that had been handed out ending up in op shops and things. Obviously some people had moved on and did not need them any more. Don't be disheartened by one comment. You know there are as many points of view as there are people on the planet. I for one admire your accomplishment.

Michele Bilyeu said...

This is such an amazingly complex post and I applaud you for writing it as well as you did. I have seen both sides of this and it only increases and gets more complicated. I will repeat news on my blog and give addresses and links for donation but learned how hard it was to give my own opinion. As a result of not giving it..haha...things got more opiniated by others, yet! Right now..Tanya Wanatabe in Japan is saying do not send quilts to Japan. Traditionally they only use heavy thick futon covers, there is no way to give them out and it costs too much to transport them. Another issue more complexity!!! Her blog is listed in my sidebar. Best of luck, you are amazing and everything you do is appreciated by someone and the quilts end up where they need to go..that's how I try to see it! Big, big hug!!

Anonymous said...

It makes plenty of good sense to send quilts Christchurch, where presumably all the victims will be rebuilding promptly, and the fact that the quilt is a symbolic gesture of neighborly love will mean a lot to them, in the years after they rebuild. (I think the same likely goes for Japan.)

Concerning the more far flung missions, the question you should be asking is "would (cheap) fleece and mylar be more appropriate to the situation?" A quilt can't but be appreciated when it gets there, but if the supply chain is fragile, there may be more pressing needs, given the bulk of quilts. No doubt you've already asked these things...

Given my tastes in hand crafts, I keep my eye out for charitable silent auctions, where handmade goods may fetch a big cash premium for being handmade, rather than for their utilitarian value.

Angie said...

She is obviously a very unhappy person, don't let her unhappiness cause yours.

We all make quilts for charity (if someone doesn't like that word you can replace it with 'gifts to people we don't know'). Doesn't the bible command that we be look after orphans and widows? I was a single mom of small 3 children for a number of years and although I didn't lack for physical things, I did need comfort. That is when I started quilting, it was charity for myself (as I was an emotional and spiritual widow) and in return I find great peace in making quilts for other people, even ones I don't know.

I don't find ANYTHING about your blog to be a "LOOK AT ME AND WHAT I AM DOING" sort of thing. If I did think it was like that, I would not support it. And just because this one person can't get over her self and her own pride doesn't mean that the people how are at this moment wrapped up in your kindness don't appreciate it. Ignore her and continue on with your work, it is much more needed than her negativity!

Katie said...

Hmm. .. . This is very interesting!! As I was reading your post I was thinking "The one who is offended by a quilt donation would probably not be the one who was receiving the donation anyway."
Then when I read down to the part that said you shipped quilts to the US I was taken aback a little. I never knew our country was "lacking" any items. So I guess that's how the offended person felt in a way.

Nevertheless.. I tried to close my eyes for a moment and picture myself in a situation where all of my belongings are now gone, and I am in a destitute state. I now am the recipient of a hand-made quilt from another country. On the label it says something about my country has always inspired the quilt-maker and how they are so happy to have had the opportunity to make a quilt for me.
I think it would probably touch my heart in a very deep place. I would probably cry, and be humbled. Our world is amazing, and different countries are not made up of people that resemble their leaders. I would like to think that all people are generally good inside with good intentions. No, I don't think I would be offended. I think I would get a feeling of peace... Through wars and trying times, there will always be someone that wants to lend a hand to help, and a shoulder to cry on. Someone, somewhere has stopped what they were doing, to think about someone else. They shared a little of their pain . . if just for a moment.

jacaranda said...

To my friend Jan, sending you a big hug. You are the most generous person I have met. How dare they think that. They should be grateful for anything they receive. You keep doing what you do Jan, this world is a better place with people like you helping others. There are other humans out there who need your quilts.

Anonymous said...

Jan I am sending you an eamil. I have triued to leave 2 comments and they haven't worked but I just wanted to say you are wonderful and generous and every quilt, every stitch, every thought. SO appreciated!!

Carol E. said...

No matter what you do, and how well intentioned and big hearted you are, someone will always be there to criticize. Don't worry about it. Your quilts are loved and are treasures that you give from the heart. Keep doing your very compassionate and beautiful work.

ann said...

That makes me ashamed to be a N.Zer,when there are so many people who have lost everything and are living in caravan parks with winter just around the corner. What you do is wonderful, and much appreciated by recipients.Keep up the good work and ignore such smallmindedness, the person who made that remark should be apolagising to you and thanking you for such generosity to fellow kiwis in need. Good luck.

tartankiwi said...

Hi Jan,

Thank you so much for all your work sending quilts to Christchurch.

The thing to remember with the Christchurch earthquakes is that it has not just been 2 isolated incidents, but people have been shaken about by close to a thousand aftershocks over the last 6 months. Each time, people wonder if this is going to be a bad one and their initial fears are recalled. As you can imagine, these aftershocks bring lots of stress to everyone and especially to parents who not only have to face their own fears, but also those of their children.

As someone who lives in the Christchurch area, I have been deeply moved by the support that has been sent to Christchurch from all around the world.

Your quilts are so much more than a blanket. They offer heat, comfort and a tangible sign of love and solidarity from those outside Christchurch. I cannot imagine that they are received in anything but the spirit that they were intended.
Please do not let the cruel words of one person stop your kind and generous work. Christchurch needs all the help that we can get and as the nights draw in and the days get colder, there are many who would appreciate one of your beautiful quilts to keep them warm.
Thank you for all your work.

Chris said...

Hi Jan, I live in Christchurch and recently received a beautiful quilt, made with love and help from around the world, from Cat. The person who has left you this comment has no right to speak for anyone who has received one of these quilts. You can have no idea of the gratitude I felt on receiving one of these quilts. That someone, I didn't know, made this work of art and sent it with love to someone they didn't know was so humbling and greatly appreciated. I don't think mere words can ever express how wonderful it felt to receive one of these quilts, to know that someone far away cared enough to do this for me. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for such a precious gift and I look at my quilt every day and say a prayer of thanks to the people behind sending me a quilt. Chris Kappelle, Christchurch, New Zealand

Khris said...

It seems very odd that anybody would be insulted to receive a quilt from anywhere when it is given by others who are thinking of them in these times of hardship....I wonder what in the world this woman was thinking to say something like that. We all give because we feel for anybody suffering or dealing with the grief these people are going through and want to help in any way possible. Keep up the good work Jan and do what you feel is right...hugs Khris

amandajg said...

Hi Jan

I love sewing and quilting, I have been quilting for about 8 years and would still love to have someone give me a handmade quilt to show support if I was having a tough time. I would not be insulted or offended, so not sure how this other person could be, however we all see things differently. I view comfort quilts as "the hug that we would give them if we were there". Keep it up, the world needs more givers.

Miss Wendy said...

Hi Jan

I read this last night and went to bed speechless..
I can't imagine what would prompt anyone to go to the trouble of making such a comment and leaving the hurt behind ..

Personally I think you are one amazing woman so just keep on doing what you do for as long as it makes your heart sing..

Whether we are from Australia ..Japan.. Bolivia..India or New Zealand.. we are all connected.. we are all one on this planet..

I'm sure your quilts have touch many hearts when a kind gesture was needed the most..

Wishing you a blessed and peace filled day..

Wendy in Ballarat