Craft as a vehicle for resettlement

Women from all cultures have been getting together to mend their children’s clothes, to quilt, to  embroider, to sew, to lace, to weave… This has been a way to share and socialize within their communities, share the everyday load and encourage each other. Women together, women supporting each other’s lives, women making and passing on ancestral crafts from generation to generation.

But what happens when women migrate? what happens when the supportive women around you are not there any more? What happens when women around you don’t make, don’t gather and don’t share any more? With our super busy lives having the time to sit around a crafty group of women seems like a luxury, like a privilege for the few who have the time and a group of like minded crafters around them. However for migrant women it’s the door for expression and for celebration of who they are.Through “The Traveling Sewing Box Project” (C) I have had the privilege of meeting amazing women who have such a wealth of textile craft knowledge within themselves and are so happy to share their craft with the rest of us. For the last couple of months I have been working with a group of women from Afghanistan and Africa at The Selwyn Refugee Centre and learning so much from them. We all shared our love for our adopted country New Zealand and our devotion for our children and families. I have tasted beautiful breads and learnt a little Farsi. Week after week we gathered around the tables and everyone told a little story about themselves, their past, their passions and their dreams and hopes for the future.

My favourite part was discovering their unique craft. All of them had a unique way or a unique craft that had been taught by their mums in Afghanistan and now they are sharing it with us here in New Zealand. From cross stitch, to canvas work, to fine embroidery to crochet, to quilting, these women knew exactly what they were doing. Now I need to find a way to know what I can do to help them channel all this skill and convert ancestral knowledge into a positive vehicle for settlement into this country.

Adella’s baby blanket

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