As a quilter I was very excited at the opportunity to take part in the cultural Olympiad for 2012 with a project called “A Gift of Quilts”. This projected aimed to give a quilt to every Olympic team paying us a visit in 2012 – one for the Olympic and one for the Paralympics team. With a total of 500 quilts to make, it seemed like a huge task, but quilters are givers and the project was well over-subscribed. As a result, 500 quilters and other groups were chosen at random to take part. I was one of those lucky ones, along with brownie groups, schools, quilt groups and individuals from all over the UK. We were not told which country we would be making our gift for, as that would be selected at a ballot once all of the quilts were received.
This is my quilt "Diving In" at Olympia in March
With our quilt we were required to send a comment as to why we wanted to take part. My quote was published in the Quilters magazine which was a huge buzz for me and a surprise as I flicked through the mag with a cuppa!
This is my comment:
“Since that day in 2005 when we were first awarded the Olympics, a lot has changed: for the world, for this country and for me personally. Sometimes it may seem that the world has gone crazy, but 2012 offers us the chance to throw aside political, social and economical differences as the pride of our nations battle it out to be the best they can be. This is the greatest show on earth. This quilt has allowed me to become part of such an occasion. With the stitches that I have worked I can become part of the history of this country, the Olympics and of the world. I can look back and say I took part. Now that is a gift to me.”
Just reading that again gives me goose bumps as I was hugely thrilled to be part of this, and to be able to share my love of quilts with somewhere I will never go and with someone I expect that I will never meet feels tremendous. I also attached a letter to the quilt so that the recipient will understand that these gifts are made and sent with love. I hoped that wherever it went, someone would appreciate it and it would be used in the spirit in which it was made.
I was absolutely delighted to be involved with the Gift of Quilts but this was nothing to my delight when I discovered which country my quilt was going to! Through World Vision I have been sponsoring Fatoumata Boiro in Patiana in Senegal since 2005 when she was 5 years old and she is now a bright and intelligent 12 year old. My sponsorship helps pay for medical programs ensuring she has help when she is sick, and education including a recent school activity where 82 teachers and 240 children learnt about malaria and HIV.
Personally, I find this very rewarding and I love receiving letters and drawings from her, as well as updates on what my contribution is doing for her community. I feel that I have a connection to Senegal. So imagine my surprise when the country that my quilt was awarded to turned out to be the one country in the world I had a personal relationship with! My quilt is going to the Senegal Olympic Team.
I part own a craft shop called Bee Crafty in Ellington, Hunts and my quilt had been hanging up on the wall in the shop for about 3 weeks before I sent it off to A Gift of Quilts. Now I get people coming into the shop who want to see it in person because they have seen it in the book that was published containing all 500 quilts. When I mention the story about Senegal it always raises a smile with people. It is funny how things turn out; Serendipity at work! I have had another chance to give a gift to this troubled country and I never even knew it!