Life has been brought indoors, and for those working on bringing communities together, the pandemic brings new obstacles to the table.
Non-profit Ħajja or ‘life’ in Maltese, supports marginalised communities through traditional Maltese lace-making and despite the COVID-19 crisis, continues to empower society’s most vulnerable, albeit remotely.
“Before the coronavirus breakout, we used to gather together every Monday to stitch away, and share our skills and stories, all under one roof,” Bibiche, founder of Ħajja said.
But when it was clear that they could no longer meet physically, Ħajja focused on bringing the initiative to its members through online classes.
Their usual classes focus on providing kits to make Maltese lace. Then, through regular meet-ups, Ħajja gives a voice to Malta’s marginalised, with free crash courses on lacing-making and an opportunity to earn money and connect with others through the century old tradition.
Currently, Ħajja is collaborating with domestic violence survivors of SOAR, which is a service of St Jeanne Antide Foundation. The project called ‘A Stitch In Time’ documents their lacemaking stories, exercises of self-care and of course, their lace creations to scrapbooks.
To adapt remotely, the Bizzilla Box was created. The kit includes all the necessities for the course to continue including patterns, winding thread and even a phone holder to see their work which is all delivered to participants’ homes.
“Moving online was a big job – but now we are so happy that we managed it. It’s great to see how everybody adapted to our ‘new normal’ and they really make the effort to join our weekly get togethers,” Bibiche said.
“Now, more than ever, this work proves that it is all about connection and inclusion. Even though we face new challenges – we are finding our own ways in overcoming them through technology, innovation and sheer will power to make lace together.”
Besides the economic potential of the courses, lace-making offers means of ridding stress, a therapeutic action especially valuable in such a time of crisis.
“We learnt that, especially now, in times of self isolation, it’s more important than ever to stay connected and wind up our bobbins to unwind our minds. We are looking forward to help more people staying mentally fit, during, and after this crisis as some people live in isolation 365 days per year.”
We love a community initiative.
‘A Stitch In Time’ Is A St. Jeanne Antide Foundation Project supported by the President’s Award For Creativity and the Arts Council Malta.