26 nationalities combine on new intercultural quilt

Women from all corners of the world played their part in the creation of a beautiful quilt which was unveiled in Roscommon on Thursday week last to mark UN International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. Over 200 women attended the noon launch, overwhelming organisers who had anticipated a much smaller crowd. Co-ordinator Nora Fahy said she was delighted to see such a crowd present and said that the project was managed by an inter-agency project team and benefited from the work of 26 women. Ms Fahy then told guests that the slogan of the group was ‘many hands together make the burden less heavy to carry,’ a slogan composed by a group in Haiti in 2004. The new quilt was officially launched by Mayor of Roscommon John Kelly. Addressing the women who had created the quilt, he noted that some of them had come to Ireland from countries with a better education or health service than in Ireland. He pointed to a number of anomalies in the social welfare system, including the fact that medical card guidelines are set at rates below the government poverty guidelines and the case of Rosie Long, who waited seven months to be diagnosed with colon cancer while a fellow patient with private insurance was seen in three days. ‘I hear people saying look at them on social welfare, they get everything. I say ‘you go and do it’. They certainly wouldn’t do it.’    ‘In Ireland we have people on middle income, rich people and super rich and the super rich in this country don’t pay tax at all,’ said the Mayor Speaking about her involvement in the project, Betty Wynne of Strokestown Active Age said, ‘We were delighted to get involved in this project. We did the four corners with a patchwork pattern. It’s the original symbol of poverty in Ireland during the famine. We enjoyed working with the other groups and getting to know people from other countries.’ Aimee Msanga from Congo spoke on behalf of the African women. ‘We thoroughly enjoyed working with other ladies. It was all the more achievable with the number of countries represented in the group.’ Monica Kaboth from Germany lives in Strokestown. ‘Workng on the quilt has been most enjoyable. I met many new people, new women from Ireland and all over the world. Freha Arfan from Pakistan was one of three Pakistani women living in Ballaghaderreen. ‘We were delighted to have been involved in this project and enjoyed the experience of working with other ladies.’ ‘A little contribution from a number of people can make a big difference.’ Ms. Arfan thanked the organisers of the project and said that the women from Pakistan would love to be involved in a similar project as it gave them an opportunity to learn about other cultures. She said that her group were particularly impressed with the work of the Strokestown ladies on the quilt. Katia da Nova from Brazil spoke about the Brazilian art of capoira, a martial art with its origins in Africa. Katia represented north Brazil while Ceila Rihas represented the south of the country. Mary Ellen Mongan from the READ Centre in Lisnamult also said that she enjoyed the work and thanked the organisers of the project. The quilting project was the brainchild of Roscommon Women’s Network Community Development Project, with funding provided by Combat Poverty Agency. Groups involved women from the READ Centre in Roscommon, Active Age in Strokestown, the Brazilian community, women from Zimbabwe, South Africa, Ghana, Congo and Germany, Strokestown Women’s Group  and women from Russia, Pakistan and members of Castle Quilters. The project co-ordinator was Nora Fahy of Roscommon Women’s Network and she was helped by Patricia Madden of North West Roscommon CDP, Bernie Downes, Director of READ Centre, Lisnamult and American artist Kristy Veranga. The following women took part. Read Centre: Bridget Patricia Mongan, Bridget Mary Mongan, Bridget Christina Mongan and Maggie Ward. Active Age Strokestown: Betty Wynne, Greta Gibbons, Ita Morahan, Beatrice Egan. Brazil: Catia DeNova, Celia Rihas. Zimbabwe: Thembi Maria Bondo. South Africa: Nomgqibelo (Gladys) Gumede. Ghana: Elizabeth Adjei. Congo: Aimee  Msanga. Strokestown Women’s Group: Nuala Woods. Germany: Monica Kaboth. Dun Maeve Centre: Helena Poole Stapleton. Russia: Ksenia Chizhikova, Irina Chizhikova. Pakistan: Aarfa Bibi, Freha Arfan, Aqsa Nafir. Castle Quilters: Pat O’Rourke, Monica Lannon.