Friday, May 18, 2012

Chris Mitchler Adventure

Chris Mitchler adventure 

The Beginning of Maama Wakisa Designs.....A Story
Maama Wakisa Designs (meaning “mama is kind” in Lugandan) was inspired by traditional Ugandan batik artwork, hand-painted in bright colours and simple African figures, brought back to Canada by a good friend of mine.  Over the years, Susan and I talked about Africa's orphaned children and young adults, left without family, financial or emotional support and how we could make a difference.  Susan's vision was to develop a charity called, Maama Watali ( One of its programs, teaches orphan girls traditional Ugandan arts and crafts, of beading, basket-weaving, and hand-painted batik art which Susan brings back to Canada to sell.  
Seeing these wonderful works of batik art for several years, made me want to adapt them into quilt applique pattern designs.  In July 2011, while selling the batiks at an International Women's Symposium and Craft Fair, I ran the idea past Susan, and made the decision to create the patterns  as a new business under the name of Maama Wakisa Designs. 

On a recent trip to Uganda in January 2012, I experienced the grace, dignity, strength and indomitable spirit in the people I met.  I saw amazing creativity in how Uganda's people find ingenious ways to generate income, from creating a rural village walk and traditional banda accommodation for tourists, to micro credit loans allowing recipients to purchase chickens to sell eggs, or goats to sell milk.  While I saw and experienced sadness and examples of the many problems that can arise in Africa, I also saw joy and laughter in the smallest things on the faces of the people I met.  Joy in dancing to African music like no one was watching, or savouring an unexpected ice cream on a hot day, or the joy of new micro credit loan giving the opportunity to develop a small business in a rural village. 
I had the honour and priviledge of teaching a small group of young women hand-applique in Luweero, Uganda.  Watching them quietly stitch outside on the porch of the house with such a look of peace and contentment, remains one of my favourite memories of my trip.  One of them, is now teaching applique to other young women in Luweero.  It doesn't get better than experiences like this!

I see the same joy, dignity, strength, grace and perseverance in the batik artworks I have been exposed to and that I am I am adapting into quilt applique patterns.   These designs evoke a clear emotional reaction in those who see them.  These young artists exhibit so much raw talent and artistry in what they produce.   Maama Wakisa Designs is committed to bringing their artistry and designs to a larger audience in Canada and the U.S. Through the medium of quilt applique patterns.  It is hoped others can appreciate the beauty and strength of Africa's people through these applique designs, while acknowledging the artistic contribution of the artists themselves. 
While Maama Wakisa Designs is intended to be a business, it also has a charitable goal, of donating a portion of proceeds from sales to African projects creating opportunities for young orphans to acquire education, creating opportunities for young women to develop self-confidence and self-reliance in their own abilities and talents.  It is about Maama Wakisa Designs doing its part to contribute to creating a future of hope and promise for young African women and children.
Maama Wakisa Designs plans to support African charities, such as CANHAVE ( , a primary school in Kampala, Uganda and Maama Watali ( with micro credit loans as pattern sales grow.  This is core to our business goals and objectives.
I hope you enjoy our initial three designs at three quilt shows in Ottawa, Montreal and Halifax.  Our goal is to launch Maama Wakisa Designs with three new designs this summer by making them available at the Running Stitch and other quilt shops in the Ottawa area, as well as on our website: currently under development.  A big thank you to everyone who have helped with this amazing journey!
The Running Stitch © 2008. Design by :Yanku Templates Sponsored by: Tutorial87 Commentcute