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Bangladesh traveling quilt Melissa Engle

Bangladesh traveling quilt Melissa Engle

A house block for a home

Cathryn Clinton
February 12, 2008

AKRON, Pa. – Quilt squares depicting houses are being used to raise money to rebuild homes in a cyclone-torn area of Bangladesh.

Throughout 2007, house blocks or quilt squares depicting houses were collected for projects for Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) 2008 relief sales. The house blocks are being used to create quilts, wall hangings and other textile projects that will be sold or auctioned at relief sales.

Proceeds from these house block projects will help rebuild homes in an area of Bangladesh that was hit hard by Cyclone Sidr when it made landfall on Nov. 15, claiming more than 3,400 lives and destroying many houses.

To date, over 230 house blocks have been collected in the United States and Canada.

This house block project began after the 2006 "Share Your Heart" effort which collected heart quilt blocks. The project brought in more than $67,928 for MCC, according to Harriet Berg, relief sale coordinator.

Last spring, Phyllis Schmidt, a contributor to the project, was intrigued by the idea of the house blocks and decided to present it to her women's group at the Greensburg Mennonite Church in Greensburg, Kansas.

But she didn't get the chance. On May 4, 2007 a tornado tore through the town.  While Schmidt's house in the country was spared, the tornado destroyed the homes of the other women in the group.

Schmidt's granddaughter, 8-year-old Hannah Funk cried when she visited Greensburg and saw the destruction.  All the familiar sights including the grain elevator, the church and even the main street stores were gone.

Hannah loves to draw and wanted to help her grandmother, so she drew an imaginary house for Phyllis to use in a quilt block.

A Bangladesh traveling quilt was inspired by Colleen Graber of the Mennonite World Relief Sale in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota.  During last year's sale, Graber led children in creating house blocks in the children's activity center.

The traveling quilt will go to relief sales to be used as a symbol while information on the Bangladesh house building project is shared during the auctions. Donations are then taken from the floor and will go toward the project.

To learn more about the house block project watch for updates on For a schedule of 2008 relief sales in the United States and Canada, click on