Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Teaching in Kenya - Part 2

No blog posting about my visit to Nairobi would be complete if I didn't include some photos of two wonderful places to get "up close and personal" with animals. Gill took me to Giraffe Manor, where I actually got to pet and feed giraffes! I've lived in various countries in Africa for a long time, and I've seen giraffes on numerous game drives, but these giraffes were the first that I could touch. How can you be ho-hum about that? They're charming!

Dena took me to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust to see the morning baby elephant feeding. Most of the baby elephants you see there are orphans of the ivory trade-- their family members having been killed by poachers who then sell the tusks. To me it's horrifying to think about the tragedy of the many, many elephant deaths that poaching causes every year. Elephants are intelligent, caring beings who inspire in me a great deal of respect. The Sheldrick Trust is doing an amazing job in attempting to right the balance, and show that human beings can be companions to elephants, instead of their worst enemies. Their program of fostering orphaned elephants is remarkable for it's constancy, it's caring, and it's demonstration of the ability to form ties of love between our two species.

The photos here show the intimate and loving relationship between many of these orphans and their keepers. It is unbelievably touching to see the way the babies twine their trunks around the keepers' necks, follow them around, and nudge them pretty determinedly when they're ready for their second bottle of milk! To see these relationships between people and elephants gives me a sense of hope for the future.

Teaching in Kenya---last fall!

I have a lot of catching up to do on the blog, so let me begin with a wonderful two-week stay in Nairobi. I had the very great pleasure of being invited to visit the Kenya Quilt Guild in Nairobi to teach several classes and speak to their guild meeting. What a pleasure it was to fly over to East Africa and spend time in the company of a group of dynamic and creative quilters! I was incredibly lucky to meet new friends like my hostess Gill Rebelo, who is a wonderful cook as well as a very skilled quilter! She has an amazing collection of fabric pieces, many of which came from clothing she bought at the second-hand clothing market in downtown Nairobi. Making her quilts with the nice bits from these used blouses, shirts and so on puts Gill very much in the quilting tradition of recycling lovely fabrics while creating beauty---and gives her a huge "fabric shop" to hunt for bargains in!

I was also able to reconnect with Dena Crain, an immensely talented quilting teacher I first met online while I lived in Namibia! She teaches regularly online at Quilt, which is how we "met" so I was happy to meet her in person in Canada a couple of years ago. Her blog is great---lots of quilts and tips, but also great photos of her life in the bush. You can find it at:

While in Nairobi I taugh Doodle Quilting, Fabric Stamping with Oshiwa blocks, and Try it Now! - a workshop on using lutradur, paintstiks, Angelina and other interesting materials in quilts. I'm posting a couple of photos from the classes, as well as a photo of Dena and me while we visited Karen Blixen's home. I'd wanted to see her farm and house ever since I saw Out of Africa, so it was definitely a highlight of the trip!

Gill and Dena took me around Nairobi to see all the important sights, which was terrific, but the best thing about going there was the experience of spending time with the ladies of the Kenya Quilt Guild. I can't thank them enough for taking me into their midst and treating me to two weeks of vibrant, stimulating, creative fervor! It was an absolute pleasure!