Sew to Speak

Image: Paula Vasquez
Image: Paula Vasquez
By Denise Lozano, edited by Yeabsira Petros, traduction française Céline Gest, traducción española Raquel Pazos
30 September 2014

From September 12th to 14th, ICVolunteers collaborated with the conference “Sew to Speak: Narrative Textiles in Human Rights and Healing Practices”, held at the Webster University in Geneva, Switzerland.

During the three days of the Conference, around 30 women from various parts of the world came together to share their experiences, learn new techniques and build connections that will help them to continue growing in their passion. For most of them, working with textiles was a medium for expression, activism, healing and a way to tell their individual stories.

The Conference was organized by a the Common Threads organization. This project aims to use a multi-dimensional approach that combines art therapy techniques, psycho-education, peer support, symptom reduction techniques and psycho-social skill building, within the context of a woman’s hand sewing collective. In this way, survivors of gender violence, refugees and other individuals or groups affected by traumatic experiences are able to share their experiences and process memories in a way that allows them to continue with their lives. 

The Event was characterized by a sense of sisterhood that kept growing with time, thus allowing participants to relax, motivate, inspire and most of all, encourage each other to express their thoughts and share their feelings. In addition, each participant presented the work she is carrying out in her own community. A practical workshop part provided a hands-on moment to discover new sewing tools and techniques that can be applied. 

The projection of the documentary about the ‘Arpilleristas’ in Chile -- who used these textile techniques as a way to denounce the atrocities that occurred during the dictatorship in the 70’s and 80’s in the country -- was one of the more emotional moments of the Conference. 

ICVolunteers collaborated in this Conference with consecutive and whispering interpretation services from and to English and Spanish during the presentations, workshops and other activities.

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