Sunday, January 29, 2012

Quilt makers and indigo dyers

I've been having a good visit with Cathy McKay.  Cathy's an obstetrics and delivery nurse at PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center, Bellingham.  A couple of years ago she was the nurse on our mission team at San Juan Opico, staying after the mission to spend a couple of months learning Spanish on the island of Tasajera, where Dr. Lauren Herbert, a pediatrician at PeaceHealth Riverbend, has helped to build a clinic.

During Cathy's time on the island, she taught several of the women living there to sew, and started them creating beautiful bags, made from Salvadoran fabric, that are now being sold as Bolsas de Cati.  But, Cathy found it hard to learn as much Spanish as she wanted without formal instruction, so she's come back this year for another stay of several months, taking Spanish classes at the CIS.

She's also interested in learning about indigo dying - for future Bolsas de Cati possibilities - and indigo is a Suchitoto specialty, so she's up here for the weekend.  It was one of those serendipitous moments - the day before she came, I met Marilyn, a Canadian woman who's living for a couple of months to study Spanish, and who also wanted to learn how to dye with indigo.  And even more serendipity: on Saturday, Cathy and I stopped in at the Concertacion de Mujeres, and learned that they were having an indigo-dying workshop on Sunday, and that Cathy and Marilyn would be welcomed.  So they had a great time, learned a lot about indigo, and probably picked up quite a few new words in Spanish along the way.

It's a short hop from indigo dying to quilt making - well, maybe a long hop - but I want to share this photo of a group of women in San Rafael Cedros receiving new quilts for their babies.  Each year, we get a wonderful collection of quilts and baby blankets made by Cindy Hellerstedt's sisters in Minnesota (a good thing to do during the long winters, I'm told), and these become gifts for poor mothers in the towns we visit.  Here's Iris Chacon, our San Rafael Cedros coordinator, in the middle, with the group of women delighting in their new quilts.

I'm not at all "handy" in the sense of being good with needles or cloth - never quite got over rebelling against my mother, an expert with a sewing machine - but I'm glad for the women who are, who make quilts or start other women making bags, whose handiwork makes the world a better place.

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