Women’s work is never done
When my daughter, Sophie, was 16 she had her heart set on studying at Atlantic College on the coast of Wales in the UK.
UWC Atlantic College, founded by educator Kurt Hahn, is committed to making education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future. It is based on the principles of a global community, with over 300 student from 75 countries who live and study the International Baccalaureate together in a 14th Century castle on the windy south coast of Wales.
Sophie wanted to experience, first hand, what it would like to live in such a community … if everyone really could learn to create a more collaborative world. The scholarship application process was difficult and only 1 place was being offered for Australia.
When she was notified that she had won the scholarship we were excited and overwhelmed in equal measure. It was amazing opportunity and one not to be missed but it was a huge journey for me as a single mum, to let her go across the other side of the world at that age .. to follow her passion and dreams.
In the lead up to her departure I spent some time wondering what I could give her that would connect her to her world back home. I reflected on my daughter and the freedom, independence, opportunity and challenges that were open to her as a woman right now in history.
How different to my mothers journey … who dreamed of becoming a doctor – although she was smart enough her family could not afford to send her to medical school. All the women before her in our family had big ideas and big views of the world but none were able to move out into it with the the same freedom that Sophie was about to experience.
I decided to create a gift that would honor the women that had gone before her and the woman that inspired her and that surrounded her now, as well as the inspiring peacemakers at home or abroad and the heroines she loved in books and films.
Making a Sisterhood Quilt
I cut out 150 squares from my Lakshmi fabric which was hand screen printed on cotton poplin. Then I gathered a circle of women into the project. We each embroidered 30 squares with women’s names including our own and then I sewed the quilt together and hand quilted across the squares, then around the border I embroidered, “women’s work is never done”. It was a gift full of love and was presented to her at her farewell party.
All through her time in Atlantic college in the crowded dorm with no personal space she would snuggle under the quilt and know that she was not alone … that every woman before her had handed on their hopes and dreams to the next generation to pick up the baton and move forwards .. that she was part of a bigger sisterhood.
Sophie at 16 with her friend Frieda at Atlantic College and images of her bed in the crowded dorm of Powys House with her sisterhood quilt on the bed.
The quilt is back in my home again now as Sophie now 29 prepares to travel overseas for 6 months and attend the AC10 year reunion with her husband Lachlan.
I look at mum’s embroidered square with her beautiful sewing and all the love she channeled into it. When Sophie return from her travels the quilt will go back to her house and perhaps be on her daughters bed one day (or at least a knee rug for her cold Melbourne winters !)