Today I want to talk about the Quilting Centre, a social enterprise that has been running for 15 years. I first heard about the Quilting Centre in one of the monthly meetings organised by IWAM (International Women’s Association in Mongolia). Selenge, the founder of the Quilting Centre, was invited as a guest speaker. There, we learnt how she created an enterprise that is both socially responsible and eco-friendly. In my opinion, organisations like this one should not go unnoticed.
WHAT IS THE QUILTING CENTRE
The Quilting Centre is a social enterprise but also an NGO. It was born out of Selenge’s vision: provide Mongolian single mothers with skills that would allow them to work from home. The crafters there create beautiful, one of a kind home goods and decor using Mongolian themes. You can find them at the Quilting Centre shop.
A SOCIAL ENTERPRISE
The centre organises quilting workshops in partnership with social welfare agencies. These workshops are aimed at people at risk of exclusion who have great difficulty leaving their house to work, but anybody can join. After workshop completion, participants have the opportunity to use their skills to create quilted items and sell them. They can either work for the Quilting Centre or work as an independent quilter or crafter. So far, the centre has trained over 3000 people and currently employs 25 women. Their employees get a steady wage every fortnight working from home. While it might not seem like much, this opportunity is changing the life of a few struggling families for the better.
UPCYCLING IN MONGOLIA
The Quilting Centre not only helps the communities in need, but it also takes care of the environment. They use fabric scraps from shops and clothing factories like Gobi Cashmere. Waste management is a huge problem in the whole country and this is a concern for Selenge and many others. So, rather than purchasing brand new fabric, they reuse what other businesses don’t want.
You would think that using fabric scraps makes financial sense and people are prone to do it, but here in Mongolia superstition has a heavy weight in people’s daily lives. Let me explain. According to Mongolians, the energy of a person gets into the clothes they wear. This energy can be transferred to another person if they wear that piece of clothing. Therefore, people get rid of clothes by burning them. Part of Selenge’s workshop consists of helping others overcome this belief and teach them about the many benefits of upcycling. Her passion is such, that she wants to create a little documentary on this topic. She hopes to encourage people in Mongolia to express their creativity by reusing discarded materials.
SUPPORT THE GOOD THINGS
During my conversation with Selenge, I could see how proudly she spoke about all the accomplishments throughout these 15 years. Her hard work and resilience are making a small, yet a very much appreciated difference in Mongolia. For this reason, I think they deserve a big shout out.
Whether you live in Mongolia or you are travelling, make sure you pass by the Quilting Centre in Seoul street. I assure you will find a Mongolian themed unique piece for a perfect gift. Your purchase will help sustain this social enterprise who will, in turn, help more people over time.