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I picked up the phone and dialed the number

Elisabeth Kübler, Volunteer Recorded by Barbara Imobersteg for series "How I got to know Social Fabric"


The article had been on my desk for a long time. The first day after I retired, I read it right after breakfast.

It was about Social Fabric and I liked it. I picked up the phone and dialed the number. Helka Mäki, co-founder of Social Fabric, took my call and said, "Today is the last day before summer break - but if you could come right now...?" "Why not," I thought, and took the next train. I arrived in the middle of the Open Sewing Course. The course was full, and another helper was more than welcome. I immediately pitched in. As a crafts teacher, I knew what to do.


The Open Sewing Studio was international and very lively. I liked that.


I had already volunteered in the community where I lived and had also worked with refugees. People from Eritrea, Somalia, Syria, and Tibet came to my home to sew. After the summer vacation, they came with me to Eichstrasse as I became a volunteer at Social Fabric. In the atelier we also had the suitable infrastructure for us. "How nice, so now it continues after my retirement," I thought.


The Open Sewing Studio was not very structured at that time. Everyone sewed with great joy and motivation and started their various projects. Often the sewing skills were not sufficient to realise the project as desired.


Participants and helpers were all slightly overwhelmed, but the mood was good.

Some refugees had the opportunity to sew with a machine for the first time. I heard them cheering and understood that the priorities here were different from the lessons I knew from school.


Nevertheless, I advocated for the participants to first acquire basic skills so that they could then successfully sew garments. I thought of a course for beginners.


Helka was immediately on board. She saw that I was experienced and let me do it.

She gave the people at Social Fabric a lot of freedom and encouraged them to be proactive. So we developed a course for beginners, worked out instructions, designed appropriate models and also introduced a few rules.


I also had to make concessions, since the people had no learning goals to achieve as in school, and my own demands for perfection were often not met. Everyone sewed a little differently and according to their own demands - sometimes exactly, sometimes less exactly. I was challenged.


I learned to turn a blind eye every now and then - and to appreciate all the more the openness, the community, and the joy among the participants.

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