Friday, March 24, 2017

Friday, March 10, 2017

Update 9 March

The first building of the Simalungun Weaving Centre is coming along.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Logo Simalungun Weaving Centre


 Thanks to MJA Nashir for making this logo for us.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

18 February 2017: 14 new pupils

"I have some news," Lasma told me during our last telephone call, and then she shared it with tremendous excitement: "We have 14 new pupils". It took my breath away. She has ordered new looms at a good price and is planning to purchase the yarn. She has teachers and pupils for the three major Simalungun textiles: bulang, surisuri (nanggar suasa) and hati rongga. They want to start within 3 weeks.

The pupils are, for the most part, motivated by money. The subsidy has enticed them; due to it they would rather weave than not weave. This is very telling and suggests that, indeed, the lack of a decent market is the core reason for the decline of weaving. The teacher at the school with whom Lasma works to rekindle interest in weaving, together with Lasma, drummed up the enthusiasm at that school, Lasma's alma mater. Our challenge now is to keep that enthusiasm high.

The need to chase down markets will continue to grow; that is obvious. I also think it will be important to build some kind of "initiation" into the weaving program informing the pupils about the support coming from outside their country and the importance of markets.

I think we also have to work on a text and a label so that purchasers know what they are supporting when they buy a textile from the Simalungun Weaving Centre and, hopefully, with time our label can be synonymous with quality. Perhaps we need to put a green sticker on the first ones to signal that the textiles were made by a novice.

Lasma said that the quality of weaving by the first pupil, Nita, is already as good as that of the grandmother, her teacher (whom she has watched all her life). Lasma is so deeply struck by Nita's capacity that she is encouraging Nita to learn everything that her grandmother can share. Her grandmother is 85. When she is no longer with us, Nita will be able to fill her shoes -- or rather her loom and her teaching role in the Simalungun Weaving Centre. Luckily that is also Nita's ambition.

Methinks this is all pretty good news.

Thank you again to all of you who have contributed to the "First Textile" pot.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Building at the Simalungun Weaving Centre has Started!

We all hope that at least the framework will be done when Lasma marries during the second week of March. (Photos by Lasma Sitanggang)

The building started with blessings in a little ceremony led by Lasma's Dad.

It looks like everyone is lending a hand, including Lasma's older sister.


Monday, January 30, 2017

Special Medicine against Trump-stings found in North Sumatran Kampung

Trump-stings are some of the worst in the world. There is much malice that is aggravating them at the moment.

I cannot help but feel terribly grateful for goodness and for the seeds of goodness that we can plant despite the ugly faces shown by politics. Specifically I am referring to gratifying new developments at the Simalungun Weaving Centre.

Not long ago the plan was conceived to offer seed money to young people in and around Lasma's village if they want to learn to weave. There are young women who have finished high school and have no future. There is no money to attend university, no jobs, and with the drought not even the possibility of working on the land. This is a recipe for human disaster: loss of hope, depression and desperation. These young women need a lifeline, an opportunity to build a future, a chance to make something of themselves.
One of the few remaining Simalungun houses. This is what cultural
drought looks like.
Lasma and I calculated how much money an aspiring weaver would need to purchase yarn and a loom and also to pay for a teacher willing to help her learn to weave. I polled everybody that I know who has expressed a benevolent interest in the Simalungun Weaving Centre and asked if any of them might be interested in purchasing the "first textile" (hiou parlobei) of aspiring young weavers for a price that would pay these initial start-up costs. Many responded immediately and I gave Lasma the green light.

Elderly teacher excited to be part of the
Simalungun Weaving Centre
Today I called her and was regaled of a long story about what this little spark of hope has done. I have never heard Lasma sound so excited and fulfilled. She has been crying tears of relief. One young woman named Nita has started to weave and she wants to involve some of her friends. Her new goal in life is to become a weaving teacher! An elderly weaver (in her 80s) is thrilled that she can begin to share her skills. Another elderly woman is going to ask a skilled friend to teach ikat techniques. Everybody wants to move to the Weaving Centre to live together and share stories! Chickens must not be counted before they hatch, but there seems to be enthusiasm to start a veritable weaving colony!

The elderly weaving teacher and Nita Damanik, her first pupil.
Ma Tika, Lasma's weaving teacher, has been weaving patterns from the antique textiles that I had photographed for them and she is selling her textiles with extra profit without the involvement of a middleman. She has a unique product and is working on developing her own clientele. She wants to move to the Weaving Centre, too! Such merriment.

I was finally able to transfer the donations for building Lasma's house which will serve as the Centre until we are able to erect the central building. Lasma will receive the money this week and wants to start building immediately.

Interestingly, what inspires the young women is being able to earn a living. They hope to be able to earn more by weaving than by working in the fields. They are gratified if they can achieve this while promoting their own culture.

I have started to think about building an education fund. It would be wonderful for the young women if, by becoming a member of the Simalungun Weaving Centre and learning to weave, they could also gain access to an education. That would truly stand them in good stead for the future.

Why is this Trump-sting medicine? Without going deeply into the nature of Trump-sting maladies, suffice it to say that they all have to do with the misery caused by thoughtless and uncaring greed and malice. Hope and opportunities in zones that have been made arid culturally, socially and economically are antidotes to poverty and bad seeds. It will keep people on their land and help them believe in and perpetuate the values taught by their culture. These are the people who will be able to nurture their children and create a warm and loving environment. This is the goal of the Pulang Kampung projects that are all aimed at replenishing the villages that have been milked and bilked to their deathbed.

The biggest thanks to those who have contributed to Lasma's house and the first textile weaving program. You have provided the medicine that is so desperately needed.

(All photos in this blog by Lasma Sitanggang.)