Arts & Life

Mats aim to soften the suffering in earthquake-rattled Haiti

By Minshu Mo | Posted: Feb 28 2010 10:33 am

If you put your heart into it, even a plastic milk bag can make difference, like bringing relief to those suffering in the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake.

Rachel Sauvé, a retired school office supervisor, has been involved in collecting and making plastic milk bag sleeping mats since 2008.

“This is a worthwhile project,” Sauvé said. “If I can ease a child from being bitten by parasites by sleeping on a plastic mat as opposed to the ground, then I have served my purpose.”

The mat Sauvé is talking about is composed of milk bags found on any supermarket shelf. It takes about 150 milk bags, crocheted and melted together, to make on child-sized mat

In a warm climate such as Haiti’s, the sleeping mats become soft and have proven easy to clean. Since 2005, hundreds of them have reached the orphanages in Gonaive, Haiti.

Two years ago, when she moved to Barrie, Sauvé brought the idea to a group of women at the Waterford Retirement Centre. The ‘Bag Ladies of Waterford’, as they have become known, meet every Friday to stitch together the mats.

“My grand-children and 87-year-old mother also play a large part in this wonderful project,” Sauvé said.

The Eastview Neighbourhood Community Centre has participated in this project since last month. They have just completed their first mat.

“It’s a group work,” Gloria Chan, a social worker from the community centre said. “It can never be completed by a single person.”

Chan is calling on residents in the community to help to collect milk bags and crochet the mats. For her, it is about more than making a sleeping mat:

“It takes more time and effort than donating money and food,” Chan said. “It makes people understand that helping Haiti is not a one time thing, but needs our long-term dedication and participation.”

On Jan 19, seven days after the catastrophic Haiti earthquake, Sauvé received an email from Haiti. It made her feel the project was more worthwhile.

“West Jet plane left Toronto early this morning with local doctors heading for Port-au-Prince in Haiti. One doctor carrying some of our milk bag mats,” her contact said in the email.

“We need more people to crochet the sleeping mats,” Sauvé said, “Let’s help orphanage homes and families in Haiti sleep better at night.”

A container with the mats and other rescue materials will leave for Haiti in March. If you wish to help and learn more, email Sauvé at: [email protected]


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By: Minshu Mo
Posted: Feb 28 2010 10:33 am
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