North Texas Daily

Members of Denton guild bring quilting to Tanzania

Members of Denton guild bring quilting to Tanzania

November 28
23:29 2012

Aria Bell/Contributing Writer

When Hope Edwards, a member of the Denton Quilt Guild (DQG), was invited by her sister to take a trip to Africa this past summer, she didn’t know the impact it would have on her.

Established in October 1982, the DQG is a nonprofit educational and charitable organization chartered to preserve the heritage of quilt making.

The guild strives to be a source of information and inspiration and an outlet for people with a common interest, as well as perpetuate a high quality of excellence in quilt making.

“The guild offers me a sense community filled with people who have a shared interest,” Edwards said. “There are classes and great national guest speakers that come out and talk to us.”

The DQG has been helping the Denton community for 30 years. The organization consists of more than 240 members ranging from teenagers to retirees. Women make up the majority of the guild, but there is a healthy handful of men.

DQG president Emanda Johnson began sewing at the age of five. She believes the guild is a great place to make lifetime friends, learn about quilting if you are a beginner, share your skills or talents and give back to the community.

“I love the friendships I have made in the guild and the fact that we reach out to our community in many different ways. I also love that we encourage one another artistically through the bonds of friendship,” Johnson said.

Edwards has been a part of the DQG for about six years.

After she joined the guild, her craftsmanship in the art of quilting grew and the people around her started to notice.

Her sister Nell Matthews visited Tanzania, Africa, in 2009 to work with children with physical disabilities at a school.

When she came back to the states she saw the opportunity to teach the people in Tanzania how to quilt after Edwards made her a bedspread with Tanzanian fabric.

Matthews wanted to give the people she visited a way to earn an income and an occupation other than tailoring.

Edwards, four other ladies from the guild, her sister and two of their husbands agreed to go on a month-long trip. Before they left, the group received donations from the ladies of the DQG for the trip to Tanzania.

“We brought sewing machines and irons with us to Tanzania to help us educate the people at the schools,” Edwards said.

While in Tanzania, the group went to two schools and brought translators with them wherever they went.

The first school was a government-subsidized trade school for young women. The school consisted of girls that left their communities as young adults to learn a skill.

“Once we got our head wrapped around what we were doing and broke down the language barrier, everything got a lot easier,” Edwards said.

The students at the trade school were learning the skill of tailoring. Edwards said the students adapted quickly because they understood color and composition. Also, they already knew how to use sewing machines, irons and needles.

“Them understanding how to sew was helpful,” Edwards said. “We just helped expand their thought process by teaching them how to use tools that quilters use for quilting.”

The second school they went to was a school for people with physical disabilities. Edwards said it wasn’t hard teaching them to sew, but a lot fun instead.

At the end of the trip, Edwards and her group gave $50 microloans to the women to help them grow businesses.

“Fifty dollars is a lot of money in Tanzania, so it went a long way,” Edwards said.

Edwards felt she learned a lot from visiting Tanzania, and the experience was amazing.

“I had the opportunity to travel outside of the United States, meet wonderful people, have an enormous cultural experience because of the diversity between myself and the Tanzanian people, created memories with my sister and most importantly I gave back to people across the world,” Edwards said.

Since the trip, the group is trying to set up a government organization in order to help and sustain this charitable effort.

There are about 20 guilds in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and they hope these guilds will be inspired to help them out and also do the same.

“I’m hoping this gives a sense of international community and there will be more involvement of other members, not just from the Denton guild, but other metroplex guilds,” Edwards said.

There will be another trip to Tanzania or another country in the near future.

The DQG accepts donations of fabric (100 percent cotton calico weight especially), quilting supplies and tools that they pass on to their charitable programs. The guild also accepts monetary donations in the form of fundraisers and raffle tickets for quilts.

For more information on the Denton Quilt Guild visit dentonquiltguild.org.

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