Half the Sky

I mentioned at the end of the last post, that I’d listened to this book while working on my Red/White Quilt Squares.

This is a difficult, yet sobering book, to listen to or to read.  My 83-year-old mother chose it for us to listen to because she is a far-reaching thinker and astute observer of the human condition, but because of its depictions of the difficulties that women face in developing countries, I thought it might be hard to listen to, esp. in the sections of human trafficking, female circumcision, and maternal mortality.  But I’m glad I persevered.  Here I was, working on cloth and patchwork and piecing–a so-called woman’s set of skills–listening to the deprivations endured by so many women across the world.

I read a quilt blog this past week where a fellow blogger linked to some of the brouhaha over whether or not there should be more racial diversity in our quilting world. While a legitimate topic of discussion, most of it trended to whining about privilege and money and bias, along with some slander here and there. I just wanted to shout, “Wake up, whiny quilters!”  I thought the discussion was a curious maelstrom, considering there are those who can’t even begin to contemplate owning a new piece of cloth, let alone the luxury of pursuing art and hobbies. I told my husband after listening to this book, I realize how good we have it here in the United States, and while we already tithe to our church–which has many humanitarian projects currently going on in the world–I wanted to do some more.

My husband’s family has a long legacy of philanthropic attitudes and projects, so perhaps I’m just now coming awake to some of those possibilities.  As a family we’ve talked about Kiva, which offers microloans to help others, however, I was quite impressed with the stories in the book about Camfed, which strives to educate girls in Africa.  No, I just didn’t find a Do-Good Badge on the ground and pin it on.  But if you choose to read this book–and although hard to read in some parts I believe all women should read it–you might find yourself at the other end of it wondering how you can help from the boundaries of your own life.  I know I was moved to tears at many points, but the authors weren’t yanking on emotional heartstrings for pathos or for pity’s sake.  They were informing me, changing my vision of the world.

We don’t need to give up everything and go to these countries to live as they do, although if you feel called to that mission, you will do much good.  As Kristoff and WuDunn point out, sometimes our well-placed 25 bucks can make a huge difference to some young woman, or a young mother across the world.  I generally have no hesitation plunking down amounts far greater than that in quilt shops, at quilt shows, or online.  Listening to this has made me realize that I can do better than simply amassing more fabric for my stash.  But I don’t think it’s either/or.  I can do both and make a difference in a life as well.

At any rate, they have a great website, with a whole list of different opportunities that, for the price of a few fat quarters, we could leave another lasting legacy besides our quilting.

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