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                                                     February  2012     Ten Years
 
      Ten years ago, on Superbowl Sunday,  a small group of quilters who had conceived the idea of sending quilts to Afghanistan gathered the first twelve quilts to send off to Afghanistan. Afghanistan was our new enemy.  Medea Benjamin returned soon after with stories of heartbreak, death, destruction, and sorrow. And yet our quilts were a beacon of light, pictures drawn from open hearts of children to their children. Our quilts were exhibited at Kabul University where hundreds gathered to see them. They were then they were taken down and given to children in hospitals, orphanages, and children in the street.
      In ten years, quilts have been sent on to Israel, to Zambia, Iraq, Iran,  South Africa, to Tibet and China, Guatemala, Honduras, North Korea, Cuba, Nicaragua, New Orleans, American Indians-over fifty countries from thousands of children from 2 years old to 92. In the first few months of making quilts, when seven kindergartners classes participated, a grandpa of a little red haired child stopped me at school one morning. "I was in Korea for 15 months and was never there a day that I thought we should be there. Thank you for doing something differently."  
      Thank you all for making, sewing, taking, exhibiting, and donating to support mailing quilts.  All has helped to do something differently. It has offered the children a way to make a difference. I have witnessed thousands of students gain dignity themselves, while learning to care about others. Bless you for supporting and helping.

Judith Biondo Meeker

                              HAITI
        Dr. Matt Tincher and "momma" the leader of the tent city.
                         
 

      When the kids and staff at Balavikasitha saw the project, they were enthusiastic and eager to make their own quilts [to give away].
                                         -Jerry

Shoba Kumar -  In-country director of World's Children orphanages in India.
                                HAITI
         Dr. Matt Tincher has taken quilts to Honduras for us. This time Matt asked for 90 quilts for children sleeping on the ground in an orphanage, in Haiti. Matt said the children were estatic to recieve the quilts. Fabric for the backing of quilts was donated by
SEI International. 

     HAITI
      ~~~
     INDIA
 

Lisa Wartinger  at the Assunta Asha Nilayam Orphanage
 
The kids were curious about the MTW quilts and asked questions about the kids who made them. The kids kept giving us drawings they had done. It was all so heartfelt and tender.
                                                    -Jerry
 
                                HAITI
       All quilt tops were sewn by The United Methodist Woman's Association of Progress, Tennessee.

                    Sister Mary Joseph
_______________________________________
  This project has given the students a way to feel that they are making a difference. It has given them dignity, engagement, and hope.

To donate to Kathryn and Jane's fund:
http://www.plenty.org
 To contact Jerry Hutchens:
jerryhutchens@gmail.com
 MTW Quilt Project Hyderabad

       The most difficult and yet valuable parts of our visit involved street kids, orphans, and HIV-positive kids—the neediest of the needy. Our best connection was with the sweet kids and their guardians at the Worlds’ Children orphanages in the city of Hyderabad.
It is painful to describe the desperate situations of some of the children in India. In the grey light of morning in Bodhgaya, we were moving from one hotel to another via bicycle rickshaws. Older women with short handled brooms swept the streets and walkways in front of restaurants, Internet cafes, and shops into heaps of torn paper, plastic bags, decomposing food scraps, and worse. The stench of urine and decay mixed with a dark cloud of diesel fumes from a passing bus. Boney dogs were sniffing their way around the sweepings when a raggedy crowd of a dozen or so skinny kids came quickly down the street. I love kids. Love seeing a big crowd of them play. These kids were too hungry to play. Their clothes were stained the color of the street; their hair was gummy and unkempt. A boy of about ten was in the lead as they moved in desperate arcs from one rotting mound to another, fingers darting into piles and turning garbage. A couple of small girls brought up the rear of the band. I watched a child of about five as she bent and swiftly grabbed a morsel that the dogs had skipped and in a sudden jerky motion stuffed it into her mouth.
       The heaviest place we visited was Hyderabad, in the dry center of India. There are three orphanages there under the financial umbrella of World’s Children. We took quilts from MTW to each of the three orphanages.
The Kumars, Shoba and her husband Uttam, run Balavikasitha,  and have taken about forty kids into their home and are caring for them with family love. They have taken these kids on until they are educated for work and ready for the world. When the kids and staff at Balavikasitha saw the project, they were enthusiastic and eager to make their own quilts [to give away].
        Shoba and Uttam took us out to Assunta Asha Nilayam (AAN). The thirty kids there are all HIV-positive orphans whose parents have died of AIDS. The syndrome runs like this: the family loses or is pushed off their land. The father goes off in search of work. He contacts AIDS, comes home, and gives it to his wife. She gives birth to an HIV-positive baby. The parents die. Family and community, who have little understanding of the virus, ostracize the kids. The orphans are then on the street, homeless, hungry, traumatized by the death of their parents, abandoned by family, immune compromised, and knowing they have a terminal incurable disease. These kids fit into the category of “neediest of the needy.” They deserve to live a full and happy life. They deserve a chance.
Once at AAN we were warmly met by a crowd of curious kids, while two girls daubed paint on our faces in what we were told was a traditional greeting. Later I learned the paint on my face was not in usual places. Those of us who were visiting sat on chairs in front of the assembled kids. To be honest, I expected a room full of HIV-positive adolescents and younger to have an aura of grimness about it—listless bodies and vacant stares. But after a round of introductions, we were treated to a series of high-energy Bollywood dances by groups of girls and boys. The performances were unexpected and amazing in the unrestrained exuberance of the kids. I was laughing and clapping and soon tiny hands were dragging me in front of the assembly to show off my groovy moves. While my dance was more entertaining than artistic the effort was well received. What amazed us most was how vibrant and thriving the kids appeared. And to be sure —these kids are loved.
 
The kids were curious about the MTW quilts and asked questions about the kids who made them. The kids kept giving us drawings they had done. It was all so heartfelt and tender.

       Sister Mary Joseph, one of the Franciscan Sisters who run Assunta Asha Nilayam, told us they lost three kids when they first started the home, but there have been no deaths for the last few years. Sadly, after we left one of the teenaged girls in the home died from a serious infection. All the kids are on prescription drugs to manage the disease and are heating healthy foods in a clean environment. They are planning engaged and joyful futures.
A few days into our stay in Hyderabad, we went to Shanti Nilayam, a new orphanage with some HIV-positive kids. Shanti Nilayam had been started about a year earlier by a dedicated young doctor, Dr. S. Bala Raja Reddy, who gathered together nearly forty kids. Dr Reddy died suddenly in October 2010. His wife has taken over the management of the kids, but she is dealing with grief and the situation of being a young widow in a difficult part of the world. Shanti Nilayam gets about 80% of its funding from local donors, but it is clearly not enough to give the kids a sense of security. We could feel it almost immediately. There is hope for them. But India can be a hard place. We gave them enough money from Kathryn’s fund to cover a month’s rent. We also passed along the last of our MTW quilts and wished we could have given them more they were so thankful and sweet.

Jerry Hutchens
More than Warmth | 110 Fifth Road | Summertown, Tennessee 38483
615-975-3880 | info@morethanwarmth.org | www.morethanwarmth.org


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