23 November 2017 Sewing hope in Lithuania with handmade quilts Our friends at the Quilt SOS Project have just returned from Vilnius in Lithuania where they delivered handmade quilts to children supported by SOS Children’s Villages UK and our sister agencies. The colourful quilts are all sewn by volunteers using fabrics from the famous Liberty store in London to brighten up the lives of vulnerable children. The Quilt SOS Project is the brainchild of Alice Caroline of Alice Caroline Fabrics, who travelled to Romania last year to deliver the first collection of quilts to children living at SOS Children’s Village there. The quilts were displayed at London’s Liberty store before they left the UK. We caught up with Alice to hear all about her latest trip to Lithuania… “We arrived at the Vilnius SOS Children’s Village mid-afternoon after a short drive from the city centre. We were warmly welcomed by Jolanta – a wonderful case worker and one of the ‘Aunts’. Jolanta explained there are 12 houses in the village – each home to around six or seven children who are looked after by an SOS Mother and two or three Aunts. The model of the charity is to give the children a stable, small family unit where their SOS Mother looks after them and guides them through life. The Aunts give additional support in the home through cooking, cleaning and helping out. The Mother and Aunts help the children learn to cope with life and to learn essential life skills. We visited one home just before the children returned from school. As we sat in the kitchen it started to snow heavily (the first snow of the year). We were shown the children’s bedrooms. Having seen the clutter in our own children’s rooms it was quite a shock to see how sparse each room was. The beds were neatly made with brown blankets. We imagined the new quilts decorating the rooms and giving so much colour where there was none. We met a 15-year-old girl who chose a quilt for both herself and her sister. After this, two boys came shyly into the kitchen just as we were leaving. When they heard we had gifts they came rushing in, asking: “Where are the gifts?” Their faces lit up when they saw the quilts. They chose one each and clutched them to their chests as they hurried upstairs. These are extremely vulnerable young people who have had difficulties in their lives that we find hard to imagine. We can tell you that each and every quilt will be loved and cherished by its new owner. The excited joy on the faces of the children is one we will certainly remember for a long time. A big thank you to Jolanta, the SOS Mothers, Aunts and all of the children for welcoming us to your Village – and thank you SOSUK for supporting us in this project.” We are delighted to announce that the Quilt SOS Project is happening again in 2018. If you would like to make a quilt for the 2018 collection, please visit Alice’s website to find out more: https://www.alicecaroline.co.uk/quilt-sos/ All of the children here have had very hard lives. It is wonderful to think that people across the world are thinking of them by making these quilts. I can’t believe that you have made beautiful, handmade quilts for all of the children in the whole village! SOS Children’s Villages in Lithuania SOS Children’s Villages started working in Lithuania in 1991. Vilnius was the first location for our work in the country because of the urgent need for family-based care for children who could no longer live with their families. Unemployment and poverty means that some parents simply cannot afford to look after their children, while physical abuse is also a significant problem for children across the country. An important part of our work in Vilnius includes supporting vulnerable families from the local communities as part of our Family Strengthening Programme.