four years ago i moved to greece and when i started to teach quilting casually to my newfound friends, there was no supplies of any kind. no fabric, no rulers, no cutters or mats. over the course of those years i methodically began to bring things over from america so that we could continue to make quilts. my friends from america sent their fabric scraps to me and my church back home sent lots of tools like rulers, mats, and all the other things we would need. i have tried to get shop owners to carry many of these things and even gave some of them the sites where they could maybe order things wholesale for themselves or for our quilters. but all was lost because it is just a different world over here -- different rules for importing, different interests, and different customer base. so much to learn on my part if i was to make any significant changes toward my quest to bring quilting to this country and to teach others to love it and the people it blesses as i do:)
so all that to say that the events of this week are no small victory nor one that has come easily. BUT we have now found a sewing machine shop owner in thessaloniki who is willing to work with us by buying our quilting supplies from a woman i have found in athens who is willing to sell to him wholesale. i have finally been able to get the two of them connected and they will continue to build a working relationship. no fabric is involved yet but i hope that will come later:) HA!! the owner of the shop will keep a Clover company catalog in his store for our quilters to order from and will also work with the wholesaler in athens to create a quilting supply display with mats and cutters, needles, etc. for customers to see some of the basic tools. he has also agreed to sell two different quilt rulers that i have been able to design myself and commission a local plexiglass dealer to develop for us. i worked on this project 4 years ago when i first came to greece and have supplied these rulers to my quilters for their quilting needs since the very beginning. i am very excited about this and will be working to gain a copyright on the product through the company attorney.
that would be exciting enough for anyone but i have other exciting news as well:) i was able to speak to several orphanage directors this week about our quilts and will continue to follow leads in reaching others as well. since i am posting everything on this site you can read about and see pictures of the places i am beginning to develop relationships with from the charity tab on the left bar above.
let me first share a bit with you about orphanages in greece. years ago, orphans in greece were actually sold. and because many times orphans come from very dysfunctional families or very unusual circumstances the greeks were not so willing to reach out to them and this attitude continues to this very day. when someone is trying to help orphans they are often looked at with suspicion. in fact, some have voiced concern that i might actually be selling orphans:) no one can understand why our group would make these beautiful quilts with no ulterior motives and at first think that we must be selling the quilts to them. of course the authorities at the orphanages are there to protect the children and it is understandable that they would be very careful and not open with those coming to inquire about the children.
having said all that one of the orphanages in thessaloniki with many young children and babies will be accepting some of our quilts for christmas. also, there is another orphanage we will support called the Benjamin House which is located in katarini, greece. this is a very unique program. the founders, including the husband and wife that coordinate the program, were all orphans together in an orphanage here in greece years ago. when they grew up they got together and worked to create this program that supports children who have no fathers and who would otherwise be given to an orphanage institution. the program works to support the mothers or other family members who are willing to raise the children and keep them together with the family. they provide activities for the children and try to help them with the difficult issues that their families face. we will be taking some of our quilts for these families with babies and young children. you can see pictures of the papafia orphanage and also read from the website of the Benjamin House through the charity tab on the left.
and finally, lastly, there is one more exciting bit of news. this week i will be speaking with the director of yet another orphanage in our area about teaching their young teenage girls first how to quilt and then making lap quilts for the local nursing homes. it will be a great opportunity for the girls to not only learn some basic sewing skills but to also gain self-confidence, and learn to love and reach out to others through quilting. the directors are excited about this idea and if all goes as planned we may be beginning this program early next year. so that's enough to keep me busy for awhile:) it is just so exciting to watch something like this develop from the ground up and to be a big part of how it uniquely evolves in the country of greece.
a big thanks to all of you who have joined our team and will continue to work with us in the years ahead:) i will keep you posted.