Mongolia 2010 - 2011
The NWL Mongolian Quilting Center remains a hive of activity. The Center, run by the Director Selenge Tserendash, now employs a designer, three full-time seamstresses making items to sell, and five part-time teachers. Several other women do piecework in their homes. After a hiatus in 2010, they are once again running four week quilting courses sponsored by the Mongolian Government. They also teach in the Ger District in Ulaanbaatar, and travel to the countryside to offer classes when funds are available (past sponsors include World Vision, US Embassy and British Embassy). This income provides a much needed to boost towards the operating and maintenance costs. High inflation means that the costs of supplies, utilities and wages have all increased significantly. The winter of 2009-2010 was unusually severe with deep snow following a dry summer, causing hardship and the death of millions of animals. 2010 was a poor year for tourism and sales in the shop, but 2011 was better and they were also able to sell their products in The Department Store. In addition to quilting, the Center now offers tailoring – alterations and custom-made traditional Mongolian outfits.
Selenge Tserendash is diligent in her goal to make the Center self-sustaining, but in the meantime they still need our support for operating and maintenance costs. I raised $7,900 in 2010 from donations and sale of items made at the Mongolian Quilting Center and $10,100 in 2011. Much of this was generated from quilt guilds around the nation, where I lectured and taught. St. Barnabas Episcopal Church parishioners remain faithful and generous supporters and the church continues to host our account. We were also able to sell items at Bainbridge Island Curves during the month of November. Quilters from London, UK, visited and taught at the Center during the summer. Leslie Coles and Jane Grendon, UK quilters who participated in the quilt show in 2006, continued to be supportive and to assist with fund raising.
In the summer of 2011, Nancy Watts, a quilter from Portland, Oregon, visited to teach, accompanied by her husband John. Nancy solicited donations of fabric and notions at Fabric Depot, a huge store in Portland. She and John filled their truck and drove to my house. We packed these items, including a sewing machine, together with donations I had gathered, into nine large boxes (20” x 20” x 20”). Through a Mongolian contact in Seattle, we were able to send these boxes, ($50 each with no weight restriction), in a container carrying two cars, bound for Mongolia. The container sailed on 28th April and everything reached Mongolia safely just before Nancy and John arrived early August. This is the fifth time we have sent donated items in this way.
The skill, expertise and imagination of the Mongolian women continued to develop as they designed new products and worked increasingly with Chinese silks that are readily available in the market.