Friedenshaus on the Move

Jan 12, 2017

This past weekend, Friedenshaus went on the road. Well … not really. I chauffeured three women to the Stuttgart Mennonitengemeinde to participate in a quilting workshop. “Why a quilting workshop?” you may ask. Perhaps I should back up a bit.

Earlier in 2016, Jennifer Otto had the idea of starting a quilting group at Friedenshaus. In the beginning, there seemed little opportunity to do that, given that only men had been visiting Friedenshaus and limited personnel required them to focus on language learning. When Marla and I applied for this position, one of the possible tasks listed included this quilting idea. Up till now, we too have focussed on language acquisition. As more and more women started visiting Friedenshaus in Fall, this vision of a quilting circle came up again in our discussions. We were in contact with Marie Friesen, a native Canadian living in Basel, Switzerland, who has been organizing quilting groups for many years. The groups sew the blankets as part of an MCC initiative to supply people around the world with a handmade gift of warmth:

This project seemed like a great opportunity to invite more women to visit Friedenshaus and “give back” these gifts of love to many of the same communities they were forced to leave. Besides this, it could provide a meaningful social outing for many women here who don’t get many opportunities because of childcare and other household responsibilities.

With this goal in mind, Marla, Jennifer, Atlal (one of our Syrian students, also a former home economics teacher) and I travelled to Stuttgart to take part in a workshop. Most of the participants were locals, but in addition to the leaders from Basel, there were some people from Regensburg (Germany) that joined us as well. Participants were introduced to the basics of quilting, from beginning to end, and took part in putting some blankets together. With this training, we are hoping to start our own circle in Ludwigshafen.


Marla has been busy pricing out the supplies we will need. With that, we can apply for funding from the province of Rheinland-Pfalz and the city of Ludwigshafen. We already received our first donation – a used sewing machine! We are hoping to receive other donations of bigger items (such as irons and ironing boards) to allow us to purchase more specialized new equipment (cutters and cutting boards, for example). When we shared this newest information with Atlal, she was visibly excited. After sharing this with another student, she was asking how soon we could get started. Obviously, we had invited the right person.

German Word of the Week: “der Hammer” – the hammer. Sounds pretty boring, but this came up numerous times in a conversation with a friend from Hamburg the other day. I tried to explain to Marla that she was using it as slang, not describing a home improvement project. I’ve understood the phrase, “es war der Hammer” to mean “it was great” or as the kids would say “it was the bomb”. But she was describing trying to walk on the black ice one morning – “es war der absolute Hammer” – which you could translate better as “it was just about the limit”, meaning it was very difficult to manage.



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