With 2020 drawing to an end and Vietnam struggling courageously to limit the impact of the pandemic, Mekong Quilts prepares for yet another season of festivity.
(Almost) like a tradition since 2001, Mekong Quilts’ nimble-handed ladies get to work on a variety of Christmas decorations and winter essentials. Perhaps most worthy of mention, 2020 sees the continuation of Mekong Quilts’ signature bamboo Christmas trees.
“Unlike traditional Christmas trees that are basically single use, you can fold [this] up and keep it for next year!” Bernard Kervyn, founding director of Mekong Quilts, explained. Bamboo used to make the Christmas trees are treated with the same amount of respect as strips of bamboo that’s used to construct Mekong Quilts’ formidable bamboo bicycles. An extensive period of drying and lacquering ensures that Mekong Quilts’ bamboo products are built to last the test of use and time.
A wide range of festive specials for everyone in the family
To go with the Christmas trees, Mekong Quilts has also revived their popular range of recycle-paper-mâché and felt-based hangables. It doesn’t matter whether you’re looking for red-nosed Rudolf, Christmas cap-cladded penguins, or the Northern Star, since the vibrant colors and fine details of these hand-made items will surely impress both friends and family. Beyond that, the social impact of manufacturing less-complex products like these are also in-line with the core values of Mekong Quilts.
“Children will enjoy the festivities while learning about the importance of sustainability,” Bernard added. He also recommends that Christmas presents should feature meaningful items that teach the young the importance of conservation. Instead of plastic toys, opt for alternatives such as craft kits made of recycled paper.
“Unlike quilting which requires extensive training and [production] effort, it is much easier for us to get newcomers, amongst the very poor villagers, to get started with making our Christmas line [of items],” Bernard explained. With several waves of financial and social challenges this year, income originating from producing Christmas festive items has been a welcome boost for the many families of Mekong Quilts’ collaborators in the Mekong Delta.
For those who are looking for a 100% quilt product that queues in twenty-four (plus one) days of anticipation and family fun, be sure to check Mekong Quilts’ series of colorful advent calendars that comes in five unique designs, many of which draw inspiration from the social entreprises’ regular line of cushions and quilts. Perhaps most impressive is Calendar No. 5 that’s based on Vietnamese contemporary art, traditional motifs, and an attractive indigo base
Christmas gifts are best when bundled with meaning
It’s also hard to disagree that many of Mekong Quilts’ regular items are also great gifts for the season. It might just be prime time for a Vietnamese-style hammock or a sustainable bag made with water hyacinth fibre; these fast-growing aquatic plants that were once considered a ecosystem-wrecking ‘weed’ have gained a following as a newfound star in eco-friendly fashion.
Ultimately, Bernard believes a difficult year also means that many will appreciate gifts that remind us about the importance of conservation. In fact, a Mekong Quilts bamboo bicycle cycling tour to the Mekong Delta to discover many of its sustainable enterprises, including quilting and eel farming, may actually be the best gift for families living in Ho Chi Minh City; both educational and meaningful at the same time.
“Every Mekong Quilt product is a gift that gives twice!” Bernard reminded us cheerfully.