The Mongolian Quilting Centre – known more formally as the Shine Zamnal (New Way Life NGO) – was established in 2005 to make a difference in the lives of disadvantaged and unemployed women in Mongolia. Women supported by the project are trained in the art of quilting, textiles and embroidery and use their skills to generate income for their families by crafting products to sell. Not only do the women of NWL make everyday items such as tote bags and tablecloths but also individual pieces of fabric artwork made from discarded and recycled material such as their stunning quilts.
Every EL guest receives a welcome gift tote bag that we have made by the Mongolian Quilting Centre as a way of providing support to the NGO as well as providing a fabric bag for our guests to use in Mongolia when shopping – to replace plastic bags. We also work with the Mongolian Quilting Centre offering one-
During one of my last pick-ups from the centre, I spent a little time with Selenge Tserendash – the founder of the Mongolian Quilting Centre (seen below on the right) – asking her about her motivation in setting up Mongolia Quilts.
What was your motivation for setting up Mongolia Quilts?
I am a single mother. But, I worked as a lawyer and also used my education and language skills to work as a tour guide. I was aware that other single mothers didn’t have the security provided by education that I had. They were also in a situation where they couldn’t work because they needed to be at home. As a Buddhist, I wanted to provide some sort of support and thought of ways to start an income generation project.
Old clothing and material remnants are relatively easy to come by and cheap to purchase here in Mongolia. They are very easy to use to turn into products such as cushions or tablecloths and with embroidery, they can be made beautiful and unique. It is something that can be made by an individual person in their home and the only equipment needed is a sewing machine. It also becomes an ecological product – because it is used and then re-used. Also, embroidery skills are part of the traditional culture of Mongolia.
What are the challenges?
Being based in Ulaanbaatar. It is a challenging city. My dream is to live in the Mongolian countryside. In nature. Also, trying to find a personal regular salary can be difficult. It can be tough. But, I am wealthier in my friendships with genuine people. My work as the Director of Mongolian Quilts provides me with a balance in life. My work fulfils my happiness.
And back over to EL briefly…
Are you interested in the work of Mongolian Quilts? As part of our series of Mongolia one-day tours, you can spend the day at the Mongolian Quilting Centre and workshop in Ulaanbaatar. You spend the day working alongside some of the women supported by the NGO. It’s an informal insight into the workings of a small NGO as well as a way to meet local people and be part of their ideas and fears. You’ll also come away with a fantastic Mongolian-style wall hanging.
‘It was amazing to meet Selenge and all of the women at the quilting centre. It was a really inspiring experience to get to see the wonderful work they are doing and learn all about the projects they are doing! They were incredibly welcoming and it was really great to spend some time there with them.’ Emma
Please do get in touch if interested. Jess @ Eternal Landscapes.