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Published: February 26th 2012
Madina with Chinese Coin Quilt
Madina figured out how to quickly sew a sine-wave quilting pattern using a commercial sewing machine
When we returned to the AWAG production facility Wednesdeay afternoon the women were eager to show us all they had done during our absence. Wow! they completely finished nine quilts .. piecing, quilting and binding. About six of them were certainly saleable as first class goods. Madina had even found a way to quilt the Chinense Coin quilt with sine-wave stitching. We took photos of all the quilts. Everyone, including us was pleased.
Soon everyone began changing into their finest saris and kurties in preparation for our farewell party. The women made arrangements for Marie to have Mehndi (henna) applied to her hands. I must say, I love Indian women's fashion. Raven hair, supple limbs, and flowing silks in so many colors with sequins, mirrors, embroidery to add sparkle to it all. Everyone was in a festive mood. They had worked hard, as had we. We were all pleased with ourselves and now we were ready for some good chana (food), music and dance.
We assembled in the big room normally reserved for the cutting tables. The women and children sat effortlessly on the slate floors, crosslegged with small children in their laps. The old folks, Me, Marie, Ilaben
Marie & Madina with Nine-patch quilt
This one turned out very nicely with fiberfil batting and simple horizontal and vertical staight-line quilting
& Sara sat in chairs. Sara made a brief opening speech and then the floor was mine. I reiterated what a wonderful project and experience this had been and what a good job the women had done. I then went around the room and mentioned each of the ten women we had worked with by name and said a few a few personal words about how she had contributed to our success. Ilaben translated for me. Grins and smiles grew as each awaited their turn.
After I said a few words about Sara everyone thought I was finished. But I continued. "Ilaben", I said, "is the wise person who has made this all possible. Forty years ago she planted small seeds and envisioned the garden it would become. She nourished it with a kind word here, a helping hand there, and lots of hard work. When weeds arose she pulled them with determination. Today her garden is blooming with goods for sale, work for many women, safe shelters for those in need, and well-earned reputation as one of India's important NGOs."
Now it was time for music and dancing. First, the Hindu women did a garba ... a
Marie Getting Mehndi (Henna)
In preparation for the party the women made aqrrangements for marie to have her hands adorned with henna
traditional Gujarati dance. I watched the circular in-and-out flow of the dance and came to realize that I was having difficulty clapping in time with the dancers. I counted, tried again, missed, counted again, and then I realized that the rhythm was a true 6/6 count. Very simple once determined, but a very unusual cadance in the West.
Next, the ladies switched to some Bollywood tunes and even the kids joined in. The Muslim women, who rarely dance, even in the privacy of their homes watched and clapped enthusiastically. It seems that the Hindus kinew that one of them did like to dance and after a bit of encouragement she came out to the floor. She chose a CD that sounded a bit like hip-hop to me, and began a more contemporary style of dancing. Soon she dragged another shy cohort to the floor and they danced an entire number. When the next song started the Muslims called the Hindus to join them soon everyone was swirling around the floor. What fun! I felt honored, like family, to have them dance with a man in the room.
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