Quilt for Kids Nepal

One of the highlights of our trip to Nepal last year (apart from conquering Poon Hill of course :) ) was being given the privileged of teaching the talented quilters from the Quilt for Kids Nepal project in Nayabasti, Kathmandu. This is a fabulous project in the heart of Nepal empowering "economically challenged women" and providing education for underprivileged children through quilts. The women make the quilts and the money they are paid goes towards supporting their families. The quilts are then sold on around the world and the money made from the sale goes straight to educate their children. So everyone wins, and all through the power of stitch!
Founded in 2006, the project operates in an encampment of Indian street beggars located in a large field in the Boudhanath neighbourhood of Kathmandu. It really is an assault on the senses, and not the kind of place I usually teach in. I hesitate to call it a slum, which feels disrespectful, but that word gives you an image of what you can expect to find here.  But this is a very special place, and a ray of hope from some very special people.
This is our second trip to Nepal, and our second visit to to the camp. Last year, we taught English Paper Piecing with hexagons, but while the ladies had fun, they found the technique of applique to be very wasteful! Why use 2 layers of fabric when you can only see one? When fabric is in such short supply, these things become an issue.

So this year I had a change of plan, and I changed the EPP to make it a more useful design for the group. So I took the basic design of Mount Everest and turned it into a block. 

EPP block depicting Everest

We were met at the Boudanath Stupa by Children's manager Ravina Kaur, an inspirational young lady who is the first in her family to receive an education. In this picture she is enjoying the bright colours and fun designs in my copy of Quilt Now magazine :)
Ravina Kaur taking a look at British quilt designs in Quilt Now magazine

The camp is situated on waste ground behind Boudanath Stupa, one of the larges Buddhist temples in the world. The colour and vibrancy of the Stupa is a sharp contrast to the basic amenities available to the residents of the camp in Nayabasti, just 5 mins walk away.

Boudanath Stupa - A very busy temple!

One of the largest Buddhist temples in the world
I have to say that this is not the environment that I usually teach in. A small, hot dark room with 34 ladies, at least 10 children and possibly a dog! We were all crammed in and sitting on every available inch of floor, possibly keen to learn, or possibly to look at the crazy English lady :)


The ladies were delighted to see the fabrics that we had brought from Craft Cotton Company, and the Gutermann threads as they are very different from their usual supplies. Then the class began, with lots of noise, shouts of "Mam, Mam, Mam". The language barrier was tricky, as they don't speck English and I don't speak Hindi (though TeeKay means OK in Hindi, and they laughed everything I said it!). Ravina was a great help with language, though it was a challenge with so many people talking at once, and Deborah was helping some of the ladies stitch too. It was mayhem, but in a fun way.

The ladies were very busy and most managed to make a block, though some looked distinctly un-mountain-like (it is tricky explaining "Sky" and "Mountain" when you don't know the words) but they were all delighted. The ladies disappeared very quickly after the workshop because they have duties around the home to perform, but I managed to grab a few long enough to get pictures!
Some of the finished samples

They were really pleased to see their pictures on my mobile :)

They seemed pleased. After a long and hot few hours, Ravina walked us back to the Stuppa where we found ourselves a quite spot for a well deserved cuppa. What a day!
Ravina, myself and Deborah on the walk back

We didn't manage to meet James, the brains and the heart behind the project, on the day as he was in India, but we did manage to synchronise diaries a few days later and meet up between our flights into Kathmandu, and then out again to Delhi! It was lovely to catch up and hear how the charity has been growing over the last 12 months. They now have 60 children in education which is a huge feat!
from the left, James, Ravina, me and Deborah

We even got a sneaky peek of some of the quilts that have been processed and are ready to go out their new owners.

If you are interested in purchasing a quilt and helping a child, then please contact Quilts for Kids Nepal. I have 2 now and they are among my greatest quilty treasures.

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