Clara Kollm

Clara Kollm (Chintan Environmental Action and Research Group - Chintan): During her undergraduate study, Clara worked abroad in Thailand and travelled widely in Southeast Asia. At the time of her fellowship, she was pursuing a B.S. in Environmental Science and Policy from the University of Maryland, College Park. While at UMD, Clara also completed a minor in International Development and Conflict Management and a certificate in Public Leadership. She also interned in Washington D.C. with a non-profit environmental law firm, Earthjustice. After her fellowship Clara wrote: "Being in India and learning about an international NGO is invaluable to me and my education. This experience ...has given me a greater appreciation for the human condition. This was my first experience with that level of poverty, and I predict that this experience will continue to influence my life choices.”

Advocacy Quilt, the Beginning

11 Jul

As some of you know, the Advocacy Project has been working with its fellows and partner organizations all over the world to create Advocacy Quilts! Thus, one of my projects with Chintan is to initiate the program here, and complete at least one quilt made by waste-pickers to contribute. There are high aspirations for the final product, so keep following as this story unfolds over the next few weeks!


An Advocacy Quilt is a creative and thoughtful way for members of a marginalized community to showcase their struggles, triumphs, and emotions. Advocacy Project has successfully completed Advocacy Quilts with individual programs around the world and each quilt reflects the unique community that constructed it. This initiative was started to give communities a chance to communicate with the world through their art, and in many instances, such as with victims of sexual assault and survivors of the Srebrenica massacre, the artists find the process of making the quilt cathartic. The quilt also gives the advocacy groups associated with the communities a chance to use a tangible representation of first-hand accounts when reaching out to the general public.

Here are some excellent examples of previous quilts and the heartwarming stories that accompany them:

Bosfam Weavers for Hope:

Survivors of Sexual Violence in the Congo:

LOVE Blanket Project with Child Laborers in Nepal:

Waste-Picker Quilt with Chintan: Chintan hopes to join the ranks of the organizations to successfully promulgate a quilt, and I am helping make this a reality. This quilt will be different from many of the other quilts that have been produced because we have decided to only use materials from the community. This means that all of the fabric for the quilt came from one of the waste-picker slums and was previously discarded by someone else! Here are some pictures of my expedition to Bopura to gather the fabric,

The children were very helpful at picking out some of the cleaner pieces! 

Weighing the fabric…

Transporting the fabric back to the office…

Tomorrow is my first day in the field specifically for the quilt – I will be working with Chintan’s No Child in Trash Program (wish me luck!). I will ask the children to draw pictures (with fabric markers) about where they live, where they go to school, and what their parents do for a living. After they are finished drawing they will be interviewed to explain their art, so check back soon for some of the videos. This is the first time that a quilt is being made with fabric paint, instead of embroidery, and so we will see how it turns out. I foresee that this quilt may not be as (traditionally) beautiful as some of the others because of the fabric being used and the age group of the participants, but it will represent the community at large and will therefore be an excellent tool for advocacy.

Posted By Clara Kollm

Posted Jul 11th, 2011


  • Caitlin

    July 11, 2011


    Yay Clara! So excited for you to get some experience in the field.

  • BRIJ

    July 11, 2011


    Good job Clara!!

  • Karie

    July 11, 2011


    Good luck, Clara! That’s a really neat idea to use only materials that come from the community. It should be both impactful and cost-effective. I look forward to the videos!

  • Kristina

    July 11, 2011


    I’m very excited to see what your end product is with the quilt. How responsive do you think the waste pickers in Dehli will be? I think more than people realize, a project like this quilt is a great outlet for people to express themselves. Good luck Clara!! PS, where does the final project end up? Who gets to keep the quilt?

  • David

    July 15, 2011


    Wonderful Clara. Many large advances came from taking many small steps. Each step no matter how small is an important move forward to advance this cause. Great work!

  • Cat

    July 30, 2011


    What a great project Clara, both for awareness and also for a cathartic and supportive experience for the participants 🙂 I’ve loved all your posts

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