Kosovar Refugee Knitting Project

Refugee women with yarn

Kosovo Knitting Project Update, June 25, 1999

Dear Friends,
      On Wednesday, June 16, Portland area knitters gathered with local refugee women to sort through the huge pile of boxes of yarn donated from around the United States. Sponsored by Catholic Charities of Maine and Peace Fleece, this first meeting of the Portland Area Refugee Knitting Project (PARK) brought yarn shop owners, local craftspeople and refugee resettlement workers together with women from Africa and the Balkans and over a picnic lunch talked of how knitting is an essential part of the refugee experience. Babbie and Stu Cameron from Rainbow Socks talked of their work in Bosnia and Croatia and passed around samples of the 10,000 hand made slipper socks they have helped market over the past five years.
      The yarn and knitting needles were divided into two piles, the larger one to head on to Ft. Dix and the Kosovo women knitting there, and a smaller but substantial pile to be distributed to refugee women in the Portland area. A kiosk will be set up at Catholic Charities where knitters can pick up an assortment of yarn over the summer. PARK plans to hold informal evening knit-ins where refugees can meet their new neighbors. For more information on dates and times, please e-mail saw@peacefleece.com or call Peace Fleece at 1-207-625-4906.

Kosovo Knitting Project Update, June 8, 1999

      Thanks to all of you who have written, phoned or e-mailed over the past few weeks. On Friday, May 23 a shipment of over 1000 lbs. of yarn, donated by Bartlett Yarns, Peace Fleece, Jagger Bros, Harrisville and Green Mountain left from Boston and arrived at Ft. Dix.

      For those knitters wishing to donate needles and wool or cotton yarn, there will be a gathering in Falmouth, Maine on Wednesday, June 16 from 10-2 pm at the home of Debra Luhrs, 44 Shoreline Drive (take Hammond Road off of Rt 1, just after crossing bridge from Portland, tel. 1-207-781-4369). There we will meet with refugee women living in the Portland area, have a pot lunch, sort yarn into boxes both for local use and for shipment on to Ft. Dix and enjoy a pot luck lunch. We encourage you to bring members of your knitting group, some unfinished knitting projects and your favorite dish.

      For those of you unable to make the trip, please mail donations to: Kosovo, % Debra Luhrs, 44 Shoreline Drive, Falmouth, Maine 04105.

      Peace Fleece and Catholic Charities of Maine will be sponsoring this day in Falmouth. We hope that you will have the opportunity to meet men, women and children who are starting a new life in the Portland area and see knitting as an important tool to keep their cultural and artistic traditions alive.

      For those of you living in other parts of the United States who might be interested in using knitting as a way of welcoming refugee families into your communities, please feel free to contact us and we will let you know of our progress.


      Peter Hagerty
      Peace Fleece, 475 Porterfield Road
      Porter, Maine 04068
      e-mail: saw@peacefleece.com

Story of Kosovo Project at Ft. Dix

      As I am sure you are well aware, somewhere between 7-10,000 Kosovar refugees are now making their way across the Atlantic to Ft. Dix, N.J (near Trenton) where they will be living in barracks for 6-8 weeks. During this time, they will be processed for resettlement, will undergo a battery of medical exams and also be treated for the trauma of warfare they have experienced. Most have left loved ones behind with no idea of their fate.

      Peace Fleece has been asked by the International Rescue Committee to help develop a very unique component of this resettlement process. In the barracks at Ft. Dix, refugees can gather during the day and knit, sometimes working with American volunteers to begin the healing process. Peace Fleece has been asked to coordinate the donation of knitting yarn and knitting needles as well as put out the call for knitters in the greater New York, New Jersey area who would be interested in volunteering their time to work with these refugees. Projects would focus on making clothing and simple furnishings like a prayer rug or a wall hanging. We saw knitting and healing go side by side during the Rainbow Socks Project in Bosnia and Croatia. Hpefully this will be again repeated at Ft. Dix.

Thank you, Peter Hagerty for Peace Fleece

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