Brigitte and her first time in Rumdoul to train a quilting group
Brigitte is a new French volunteer at Mekong Quilts who focuses is mainly on the training on color combination for production team and the quilting technique for group leaders. Recently Brigitte went to Rumdoul, Cambodia for the first time to train one of our groups. Below is Brigitte’s report on this four-day training session.
In early October, I had the chance to accompany Hieu, production manager at Mekong Quilts to Rumdoul in Cambodia, which is a few hundreds of miles from Ho Chi Minh City. Ca, a group leader from Duc Linh, Vietnam also joined us and was a very good trainer.
After just arriving at Mekong-Plus office, we went to the village where the quilters live, which was a 45-minute motorbike trip on the lateritic road, which shined in the rain and was edged by the rice fields of a beautiful green, as far as the eye could see. About thirty women were waiting for the ‘beginners session’, as they had recently joined the Mekong Quilts project.
The groups were divided into three. The first group was quilting patchwork quilts that were already pieced together by the women from Duc Linh. The aim of this training was to show the women how to assemble a quilt, do the quilting including the borders and binding. The second group was doing the piecing of the same patchwork quilt. The third group was being trained on how to “appliqué” potholders with small Cambodia figures.
The sewing material is very simple, which includes four mechanical sewing machines and one iron that should contain embers however it’s heated on a small gas stove.
Hieu is a very good teacher. She takes the time to show, to look, to correct the imperfections and show again, and at the same time always smiling with encouragement. Her contact with the quilters is excellent.
All the training was possible with the help of five young girls of Mekong-Plus who translated for us. Kunthy, Borin, Dany, Lung and Maneate translated throughout the four days from Vietnamese / English to Khmer.
Every woman tried her best, under conditions that are worthy of being described. We were all sitting on partially cemented floor in front of one of the quilters’ house. There was no electricity or running water. A few meters from this area, is a small dirt road that runs through the rice paddies. The traffic is fairly busy with carts, motorcycles and bicycles, herds of cows or ducks, dogs and cats. There were many buffaloes working in the fields with the villagers.
For these women quilters, this quilting activity is a big change from their agricultural work. Most of them want to keep their status as a farmer (part-time), which is so important to the village, while at the same time participate actively in Mekong Quilts program. The income earned from the quilting improves their living standards, which allowing them to raise their children in better health and education.
I am so thankful to have been invited to participate in these training days that allowed me to meet the quilters in their environment. Despite the language barrier, the smiles, facial expressions and gestures of sympathy are universal advantages to thank, congratulate, encourage.
Every evening we return to the Mekong-Plus’ house for dinner and sleep, which gave me the opportunity to know the young people who "run" Mekong-Plus in this remote region. Their activities are diverse from agriculture, veterinary medicine, microcredit, etc. I thank each of them for their availability and kindness that made this stay a highlight of my mission in the Mekong Quilts."
Brigitte Euverte, November 2011
Brigitte's assignment in Vietnam Quilts has been funded by the profits of the Women in Vietnam Diary 2012.