One of the tables at the Cataline Elementary School craft fair last month represents more than unique, hand-crafted items; it’s a way to support children and families in one of the poorest places in the world.
Local Kindergarten and Grade 1 teacher Terry Hathaway returned from a visit to the Griya Shekinah children’s home in Lombok Indonesia determined to make a difference from her home community.
Her table at the craft fair featured batik wall hangings, greeting cards made from recycled paper, placemats, bookmarks, wallets and more.
These items were made by the students at the Griya Shekinah facility and by women in the community seeking to make life better for their children.
When Jim and Terry Hathaway went to Griya Shekinah to visit the children’s home and the school, they offered to bring back some of the recycled items and sell them at a fair price.
More than an orphanage, Griya Shekinah is home to children who have lost their parents and also to children whose parents cannot afford to feed them or send them to school, she explained.
The children’s home provides them with nutritious food and the opportunity to get an education. To help raise money for the school, the kids make cards, bracelets and bookmarks out of recycled paper to sell, and they do the project from start to finish, including mashing, soaking and drying the sheets of paper, according to Terry.
Terry, said that when she visited Griya Shekinah she got to visit the school and interact with the kids in their classrooms. “I fell in love with the kids and became aware of their needs.
They were so open and friendly and eager to learn; language was no barrier and the kids all helped each other with unfamiliar words,” she explained.
“This really made me realize how precious our education is, and how fortunate we are that every child had an education. In some countries that’s not a ‘given.’
“I also met two young women in the area who call themselves ‘noble women’ and help women in the community start small businesses to earn extra income for their families. Some of these women are parents of kids in the school.”
The women in the local villages have been learning sewing and quilting in their own homes for over a year now, Terry said.
“The average income for families is about $35 to $50 a month. Making and selling these unique and colourful items can raise the income to $100 to $200 a month. They make things like table runners, aprons, hot pads, custom-designed bookmarks, wallets, purses, shoulder bags, wall hangings and bed quilts,” she continued.
“These are a batik art form, unique to Indonesia. The ‘noble women’ have an artist who paints on the fabric for them — each piece unique. The women sew ‘borders’ onto the painted pieces, creating Indonesian landscape window frames — almost a 3-D quilted effect.
She said that getting involved with this has affected her everyday life and her everyday faith.
“When a shopper purchases a unique piece of batik artwork or recycled paper greeting card or bookmark at this craft fair, you’re not just buying a great gift, you’re helping a child get an education and a family have a better quality of life.”