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Over the past year they have made several trips to Ethiopia after a visit to the UK by CAFOD's Beverley Jones (CAFOD's co-ordinator in Ethiopia) who stumbled on Jen's quilt shop in Wales. The idea was fomulated from their conversation to provide Ethiopian women with the skills to enable them to make and sell their hand-sewn quilts in Ethiopia and Wales.
Jen said "I saw this as a unique opportunity to source replica Welsh quilts for my proposed Welsh Quilt Gallery Shop in Lampeter Town Hall. It's such a great story that poor women who became master quilt-makers in Wales to avoid destitution and prostitution in the last century are linked to women in northern Ethiopia doing exactly the same thing this century.
"Also that a dying tradition in one country is helping to stimulate market development in another. I hope that this will be the beginning of a mutually productive and prosperous enterprise."
According to Beverley "There is a long tradition of weaving and embroidery in Ethiopia. The country is just recovering from cycles of drought and war which have left the majority of its people impoverished. But now there is a possibility for developing new products and creating more income for women who would otherwise be forced into sex work or other hazardous ways of earning a living."
The Ethiopian made quilts will be inspired by the styles and patterns of Welsh quilts and made using flannel woven at the Welsh Woollen Museum at Drefach Felindre as well as the colourfull Ethiopian fabric designs.
Janet told me that on the latest trip, which Janet and Jen are taking right now, they will be training five trainers who in turn will teach ten young women. This will enable them to ensure quality control is maintained and place some good orders.
It sounds like an excellent project that could really empower people who, given sufficient skills and tools can make a difference in their own lives.
More information can be found at the links on this page and here.