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Sunday June 27, 2004

Surprise offer for quilts

By Phoa Kelene

IT was truly a happy surprise when Jerejak Resorts & Spa executive director Syed Nazri Syed Kamaruzaman offered RM5,000 for our quilts during the BRATs Green Awards 2004 presentation ceremony. 

Syed Nazri made the offer after Star Metro editor Tan Ju Eng revealed that the two quilts on exhibit in the foyer of the resort were for sale. 

The idea of sewing quilts to raise funds was first mooted during the BRATs year-end workshop to Mabul, Sabah, last year.  

During the trip, we learnt about marine life, and the need for more conservation efforts. We decided that we needed to make a difference. The big question was, “What could we, teenagers, do to save marine life? 

QUILT WITH A MESSAGE: Phoa Kelene (far right) and her fellow quilt makers (from left) Quah Chin Chin, Alex Lee, Lim Wern Yew and Lim KeanYew with their marine masterpiece. Far left: The BRATs spent many afternoons working on the quilt in Phoa Kelene’s house
After much thought, we came up with the idea of making quilts and auctioning them off to raise funds. 

We all went separate ways after the Mabul trip, and it didn’t look like the plans we made in Sabah would materialise. But we somehow managed to kick off the quilt project. 

When I returned to Penang after the trip to Sabah, I came across a shop called Friendship Quilts. The proprietress of Friendship Quilts, Harriet Saw, kindly offered her help after I told her about the BRATs' plans to make quilts. With my mother's help, we started a quilting group among the BRATs in Penang in February. 

Most of the Penang BRATs who volunteered to help were not in the group that went to Mabul, and others offered to help even though they did not know how to sew.  

There were loads of material to measure and cut, and lots of sewing to do as it was done mostly by hand. Surprisingly, the guys were quite deft with the needle and thread. 

After two months of Sunday afternoons and public holidays holed up in my house, we completed two magnificent marine-themed quilts. 

It was now only a matter of auctioning off the quilts, and we were happy that Syed Nazri appreciated our efforts and bought the quilts. 

The quilts will be exhibited at the Jerejak Resorts and Spa which is appropriate, as it was where the BRATs Green Awards camp was held this year. 

We will use the proceeds from the sale of the quilt and other handicrafts to buy a reefball which will be deployed into the seas. 

A reefball is a large concrete structure to help jumpstart the growth of corals which encourages marine life to remain in our environment.  

Through the journey of completing the quilts, friendships were established. We also hope that we have managed to instil awareness among BRATs and the public on the importance of marine conservation. 

Although the quilt project has been completed, we hope to put our heads and hands together again to further help conserve marine life.  

Last but not least, a big thank you to all those who contributed towards the success of our project, “Quilt for Corals”! 

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