Mongolia - Quilters without Borders
Piecing Together a Better Future for Mongolian Women
The Shine Zamnal NGO (New Way Life) Mongolian Quilting Center was opened in 2004 in Ulaanbaatar under the direction of Selenge Tserendash, a young Mongolian lawyer, for the purpose of helping needy Mongolian women both economically and socially. After lowly beginnings, the organization is now well-established with its own facility and several employees. Selenge Tserendash is the Director and supervises a manager, three designers, five part-time teachers, three seamstresses and as many as 40 piece-workers. Teachers at the Center have taught quilting to hundreds of women since 2004 and have postively impacted the lives of not only these women, but also their families. For an article summarising the project, read here. Tax deductible donations may be made on-line to the Center through St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, Bainbridge Island, WA here.
In June 2003, I received an impassioned e-mail from Selenge Tserendash asking for volunteers to help teach quilting to low income and unemployed women in this country where unemployment is high and alcoholism is rampant. I responded to her request for help, and have now made four trips to Mongolia. Read about my experiences teaching beginning quilting to Mongolian women in 2004, helping to organize the First International Quilt Exhibition in Mongolia in 2006, my third trip in 2009 to teach and visit the newly purchased facility for the Mongolian Quilting Center, and my most recent trip for the Second International Quilt Exhibition in 2014. Click the links for a Quilter's Newsletter Magazine article project summary, annual updates 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010-11, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, donations and photographs.
Quilting is a new activity in Mongolia. The women are eager to learn, already have sound sewing skills, and own ancient, but usable hand-cranked sewing machines. They have fabric scraps and clothing to recycle, so may easily begin quilting without any additional expense. The New Way Life (NWL) NGO aims to give a new service to poor people in Mongolia, teaching them patchwork and quilting, and providing a center for this activity. Unemployed women may contribute to their family income by working at the Center or at home. The target groups are poor, unemployed, single and widowed women, disabled women, orphanage children and children with special needs. NWL teachers also visit the Provinces to teach quilting to rural Mongolians.
Selenge Tserendash’s vision was to establish a Community Center in Ulaanbaatar where the Mongolian women could meet for quilting and other crafts, take quilting classes, and run a shop to sell their products. In 2008, I headed a capital campaign and raised $80,000 to purchase a permanent facility for the Mongolian Quilting Center. They now have a retail area, a classroom and a tiny office in an excellent location close to the city center and easy for the women to reach by public transport. Challenges continue as the costs of operating and maintaining the Center increase with inflation and the NWL make efforts to become self-sustaining and to reach out to more women. Future goals include expansion of the Center, offering free or low cost legal advice for needy women, providing a nursery, and basic courses in health and computing skills. Selenge’s achievements are extra-ordinary, and have come to fruition through her tenacious perseverance and strength of character. This project is unusual in that she initiated it, rather than being sponsored by an overseas aid organization. They welcome visitors and quilt teachers from all over the world. Contact me if you are interested. Click here to make a donation.
Thank you for the numerous generous contributions to the New Way Life Mongolian Quilting Center from the following and many more:
- Family, friends and quilting associates, notably Nigel Ball, Hazel Ball, Carol Gregory, Wanda Rains, Gladys Schulz, Nancy and John Watts, Lesley Coles, Jane Grendon, Klina Dupuy, Carol Honderich
- St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, Bainbridge Island for hosting our fundraising efforts in USA
- Parishioners at St. Barnabas especially the Ellis family
- Local stores, notably Esther’s Fabrics, The Kingston Quilt Shop, Quilted Strait, Island Quilter, Churchmouse Yarns & Teas
- Quilt guilds around the nation
- The quilting industry, notably Viking Sewing Machines, Prym-Dritz, Coats & Clark, David Textiles, The Electric Quilt Company, Marti Michell
- Bainbridge Island Rotary Club
- Overseas organizations - UNIFEM TAMA Japan, Reed Japan, Deutschland Development Agency, International Women's Association in Mongolia, The British and American Embassies in Mongolia, World Vision, ADRA, Mercy Corps, Boroo Mining Company.