Gayle saw a need in the village for women to have a way to make money to support their families, and she began a ministry where women could learn how to sew quilts. There have been a few different women in the last three years since they started the ministry, but there are currently three women employed by the ministry center in Kilometer 13 who sew quilts, which Gayle then sells in the US and Bangkok.
When we got to the ministry center on the first day, Gayle and I pulled all the fabric out of the cupboards and put it out in color-coordinated piles. Once the three women arrived, Gayle checked in on their current projects and began assigning the next month’s projects. She worked with each woman to pull out the fabric they would need and answered any questions they might have.
Each woman has her own sewing machine and various quilting materials. They are paid by the quilt rather than by the hour, so it is up to each woman how quickly they want to get done. I was amazed at how quickly the different projects started to take shape. The women make quilts of various sizes and designs, and also do baby blankets, tableclothes and wall-hangings. Gayle buys all of the fabric and materials in Bangkok and brings them to the village on her monthly visit, and then takes back all of the finished quilts. The pastor’s wife, Sopheap, oversees the quilting ladies during the rest of the month.
I had seen the finished work of the women so it was really cool for me to actually meet these ladies and see them at work. I watched them work, helped with some small cleaning projects in the mornings and then in the afternoons I got to help sew a little bit! The women are trying to use up a lot of the little scraps of fabric that they have so they have been sewing together scrap blocks and then putting them together to make a quilt. I made several scrap blocks to go toward the next scrap quilt! I enjoyed piecing together the fabric, trying to make them fun and interesting. Here’s one of the blocks that I made.
Gayle makes the trip every month, giving the women freedom to work but being a wonderful resource for them. She has learned right along with women, bringing a friend from Seattle to do the original teaching as she had never quilted before herself. The quilts are really beautiful! Here is one of the quilts that I had been given before I went to Cambodia that came from the ministry.