Monday, February 27, 2012

Janet's Post

This from Janet who spent an extra week in Haiti!

Well with the help of Deb and John and Ammonia, I announced that after they completed their big quilt we were returning to Applique and. These blocks had to be well done and they were going to New Hampshire to Liz, Sarah, Maureen, Sophie, Melanie, and Zola, this they were very happy to do and I got amazing blocks of a caliber that far exceeds any work they have done before.

Oh Yes, at 10:00 or so another 5 came, I was a little flummoxed, but finally said ok and in they came. It actually worked well as they had projects started.

It was perfect, very quiet and they just visited back and forth just as it is and was in the early days of quilting bees.  They totally enjoyed each other and the quiet, suddenly they realized that they heard me saying the same words and they started saying them and laughing, we then danced and sang, it got a little crazy for awhile. Crystal and Fanny (The teachers for the grades kindergarden and 1st in Bois d'Avril )  came from the school for their sewing lessons and I started a baby quilt for the girls which we will finish tomorrow.  Good news, Crystal came to see everyone working this morning and was very impressed, she seemed to enjoy the sewing herself this afternoon.

At 6:00 I have Louchar (the night watchman), Ammonia, and Crystal, and I hope that is all for a few hours of sewing and then a little food, telly and bed to start again.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Last Full Day in Haiti

Day 7: Today was our last full day in Haiti! We got up early and went for a walk up Zombie Mountain. There was a breath taking view from the top of the mountain and we could see all the way out into the Bay of Port au Prince. Then we took the hour drive into Petionville.  First we went to a fabric store and got some brightly colored flowered fabric and some more machine needles. We then went into a convenience store and bought some fluffy blankets to use in the quilts because we had almost run out of batting the day before. We stopped at the side of the road and went shopping at booths filled with metal work and paintings. We got some very beautiful artwork after negotiating with the vendors for a few minutes. After those shops we went to an actual store and bought some jewelry made out of animal horns and some different miscellaneous artwork. The shop was a lot more expensive than the booths by the road but it had some very unique items. After shopping we were pretty worn out so we stopped at a bakery to get some treats. We bought some delicious almond crescents that were very sweet and tasty. On our way back up the mountain we stopped at the market and bought some mangos, bananas, and many mandarin oranges. 

When we got back we had lunch and prepared for our last day of sewing. Many people finished their quilts and they were very proud of their accomplishments. At the end of the session we brought everyone together and gave out certificates with their names on them that said that they had completed the session. They were extremely happy to receive them and they were all very excited to get their pictures taken with their finished projects and their certificates. After sewing we only had a few minutes to rest before we went down into the village for a dancing and drumming party.

Everyone gathered around the drummers with drums made out of trashcans. Their beautiful voices rang out throughout the valley and we all had a lot of fun dancing together. Many of the people were very good dancers with moves that we had never seen before. At the end we handed out the mandarins to everyone and although it started out a little hectic, everyone came out happy. They continued to dance and sing with us all the way up to the Curelley’s house. We will all be sad to leave tomorrow but we will be comforted knowing that Janet will be staying for an extra week so that our sewing can continue. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Day 6

Today we prepared to finish the quilts that the women had started. We told them about our visit to the sewing cooperative and they seemed very interested. We helped the women get their quilts together, which to out very beautifully. We also started six strip pillows with some of the older children. Many of them turned out really well and some of the kids even worked on sewing theirs on the treadle machines. One little boy even started his own zigzag quilt on the machine, and is very excited to finish it tomorrow. 

When some of the very little kids were getting bored we played our variation on American games. Instead of red light green light we play “un, deux, tois, solei.” And instead of duck duck goose we played “canard canard moid.” The kids had a lot of fun and the grown ups really enjoyed the entertainment. Ammonia also sang a beautiful song for us and keeps surprising us with her hidden talents.

After we had a tasty lunch of lentils we decided to go for a long walk. We drove for about half an hour next to a pretty frightening drop-off. My dad had to get out and check the road a few times to make sure we weren’t too close to the edge! We parked next to a small village and climbed up pretty high until we reached the top with almost a 360-degree view around us. We could see all the way out to the ocean and colorful mountains on all sides surrounded us. On our way back to the car many Haitian children joined us and asked us many questions like what our names were and how old we were. They were very sweet and walked us almost all the way back to our car. 

Before going back to the Curellis house we stopped and played a game of soccer with the villagers. We played a lot better today and we even scored a goal! We are excited to sew tomorrow for the last time and drive into Petionville and go shopping. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Day 5 in Haiti

Day 5: Today we got up early to drive to the sewing cooperative in Lilivois. It was a long two-hour drive but when we arrived it was definitely worth it. We went to the top level of a two-story concrete building and were introduced to one of the sewers in the cooperative. We saw some of their work, which was incredibly intricate and beautiful.
We talked to the women who worked there and they told us how much they loved the cooperative. They spent about six months every day from 7-1 just learning how to sew and then they started in the first of two rooms working on simpler projects like pot holders and pillow cases. They told us that their work usually took about three days to complete and they made many of the designs themselves. The other room had more experienced two-year sewers. They worked on projects like large quilts that took a few months to complete, but were incredibly creative. The designs ranged from images of schoolhouses to depictions of their everyday lives.

We then talked to the head of the schools that were in the lower part of the building. We got a look into the rooms themselves, which were concrete with a table and some chairs and very limited decorations. We also got to talk to the main teacher of the sewing cooperative who was sick in bed. She told us that she had a total of 18 workers who would work on the projects, which were then brought to America and sold, and the money was given back to the person who made the item. The system seems to have worked incredibly well, and we definitely want to strive to develop something along the lines of their project.

We also met the schoolteacher for the school in Bois d’Avril who was very nice and spoke pretty good English. We also got to go to her house and meet her family who were all very welcoming. On the way back home we stopped at a market and bought fruits like bananas, mandarins, and papayas from a group of all women sellers. We also went to a super market, which actually looked pretty similar to one in America, and had many American brand items. Once we got home we had a great lunch of spaghetti with tasty tomatoes sauce made of fresh vegetables. We went for a walk through the village after lunch and greeted many of the smiling villagers. We are very excited to be working with the villagers tomorrow morning and implementing some of the ideas from the cooperative in Lilivois. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Day 4

Day 4: Today we worked on the small staircase quilts to show the women what they could make with just a few strips of fabric. The younger kids made some more dolls, which they love to play with and throw around. The older kids and women worked on their applique and they made simple houses. Many of them turned out very well and we are planning on taking them back to America in a quilt. Once the older women had finished their applique they were very excited to make small quilts. They had a lot of fun picking out fabrics and they made some very beautiful work.

Some of the kids wanted to learn how to use the treadle machines so I had them sit down next to me and peddle. Slowly I would decrease my pressure on the machine and soon they were sewing all by themselves. Even though the machines kept breaking, the Haitians persevered and felt very accomplished once they got it down.

All of the ages of people really enjoyed making small bags, that they called sacks. They added drawstrings and some of them even appliqued onto them. Once Ammonia saw the staircase quilts that we were working on she immediately wanted to make one of her own. Even though she said that it was a lot of work she really enjoyed the challenge. The Haitians were sad when we told them that we would need to take tomorrow off because we are going down to Lilivois to see the sewing cooperative there.

After a lunch of black beans and rice we decided to go for a walk around the villages. We saw many beautiful views and had fun walking along the sides of the mountains. Although we are unhappy that we will not be able to sew tomorrow we are very excited to see the cooperative.