Putting Needle to Cloth

As you may have previously read, one of my projects this summer has been to work with WAP to produce embroidery squares for a child marriage advocacy quilt which will be used to spread awareness about child marriage and girls’ empowerment in Zimbabwe. Twelve of WAP’s beneficiaries were selected to participate in the quilting project and they attended an embroidery training last month to learn stitching skills and begin thinking about the images they would be putting on their quilt squares.

We recently held our second embroidery training at a local Harare cafe in order for the girls to get some extra help on their squares. As we have all learned, there are certain stitches that work better for different subjects (like trees, skirts, houses, etc.) and since the quilters have had a chance to work on their squares and begin producing their images and scenes, they were able to get individualized assistance with their projects.

Samples of different embroidery stitches (photo from Pinterest)

Tina Telford – Chairperson of the Harare Patchwork and Quilting Guild – led the training for the second time and worked with all of the girls to teach them new stitches and give them advice on how to proceed with their squares.

The quilters are from all five of WAP’s clubs, so many of them had not met before the embroidery training began. As they all sat around picnic benches in the garden of the café, they began to open up, show each other their quilt squares, share tips about sewing, and laugh with each other.

I was very impressed with how far along the girls have gotten with their embroidery and the powerful and beautiful imagery they are managing to create. I am so excited to see the finished products because I know each one is going to tell a story and reveal a different facet of the issue of child marriage. Some of these young girls have already been through so much in their lives and it is truly inspirational to work with them and hear them talk about how much they have learned and how they have been empowered.

WAP Ambassador Trish’s square features girls playing netball together. She explained the image is representing how girls coming together as a group and forming a community can prevent child marriage.

Trish’s embroidery square work in progress

Chitungwiza cub member Tanatswasa’s square is a scene where a girl is at a house working with a baby and a garden, while there is a school in the foreground of the scene. Tanatswasa explained that since the girl has been married, she has lost the opportunity to attend school.

Tanatsawa working on her square

Once all of the squares are collected and photographed next week, I will be sharing them on AP’s website so you can see all of their hard work and read about the stories behind each piece of embroidery! I will then be transporting the squares back with me to the U.S. where they will be assembled into the final child marriage advocacy quilt.

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