"Stitches of Love" The Story of the Love Quilt Project
Stitch by stitch threads are interlaced through colorful printed fabrics – uniting them into a beautiful quilt, which is filled with love. The patchwork of smiles and tears, hunger and fulfilment, pain and healing are pieced and quilted together into a unique story. This begins the narrative of The Love Quilt Project. And it all starts with the creation of a handmade quilt filled with kindness, compassion, tolerance, encouragement and support.
By teaching children about the healing powers of love, The Love Quilt Project is changing the lives of vulnerable and orphaned South African and American children, many of them affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic and living in poverty. It begins in American classrooms where children learn about the importance of reaching out to other children who are suffering. Children in public and private schools, scout troops, churches, synagogues, and other organizations receive a lesson on the project and create messages of love on special fabric art squares. The children are asked to look into their hearts to find an emotion of love and support that they can express through their art. The art lesson teaches the children about equality and how all people deserve to be loved no matter who they are, what they look like, or where they live.
The art squares are given to quilters who carefully incorporate them into a traditional log cabin pattern quilt. The story continues through the meaning of the log cabin pattern with its light and dark quilting blocks. The light symbolizes the daylight or brighter, happier days while the dark side represents night and darker, harder times. The center that ties day and night together is the art depicting love. Each South African recipient of a Love Quilt also receives the same art square lesson as the children in the United States. They learn that they are not alone in the world as there are American children affected by HIV/AIDS who are living in poverty and in need of support. In a spirit of reciprocity, the South African children create their messages of love to be incorporated into quilts to be given to an American child.
To date, over 6,500 children across the United States and in South Africa have participated in the project and over 200 quilters continue to volunteer to help stitch the quilts together. The patchwork of good has expanded to include educational support that is critical to ending poverty and despair. The abuse and pain that many of these children have endured is unimaginable as they deserve a better chance in life. The project provides educational support by donating funds to cover the primary school fees in South Africa. The Love Quilt Project’s vision is to give each of these children an opportunity for education, gaining the tools to prosper and change their lives. As the threads are stitched together into a patchwork of love and support the child is given hope not only through the emotional hug from their quilt but by knowing they are being given a chance to succeed by attending a qualified school.
The quilts are received with wonder and happiness and become the proud companion of the kids, serving as mattress, blanket and coat and as a result never leave their side. The carefully assembled textiles represent a sense of belonging to the world, crafted from fragments the fabric becomes one, symbolizing the human condition. The powerful messages of love and support have touched not only the lives of the orphaned children but the children and adults participating in the project. The added benefit of this project is that it crosses the ocean, literally stitching together all communities as one to serve the desperate needs of vulnerable children.