Local News

Group crafts handmade welcome for refugees

Posted March 18
Updated March 19

— A group of volunteers gathered at The Cupcake Shoppe Bakery in Raleigh on Friday morning to crochet, drink coffee and most importantly, welcome new neighbors.

For nearly three months, Glenwood Gatherings has crocheted mats out of plastic bags as gifts for refugees who have relocated to the Triangle. Donna Belt and Cindy Bolden started the project in Raleigh to give refugees a sense of belonging.

“I hope they would feel comfort and courage,” said Bolden. “I think overall, a welcome to the community.”

It takes 20 to 30 hours and about 800 plastic bags to make a single mat. Bolden believes it is about coming together.

“You will have many hands that have touched one mat,” said Bolden.

Many lives can touch one person – like Margritte Kabobo, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo. She fled her home nearly six years ago, fearing for her family’s safety after her husband questioned a voting process.

“I come from my country (with) my children and my husband only – all of my family is there,” said Kabobo.

Kabobo, along with her husband and children, fled first to Nairobi. They have been in Raleigh for eight months. She was one of two refugees who met volunteers on Friday and received a mat, which made her feel welcomed.

“I’m so happy,” said Kabobo.

To Bolden, not having a flawless mat isn’t a problem. In fact, there’s a deeper meaning behind it.

“When you do bring together many hands and hearts, I think imperfection becomes perfection,” said Bolden. “There’s beauty in imperfection, and I think the beauty is just the connection of people striving and seeking to help one another.”

Next week, Glenwood Gatherings will deliver almost 40 finished mats to the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants in Raleigh. The committee will then distribute the mats to arriving refugees.

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