Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Red Cross Appeal and the Changi Quilt

It is always good to see the image of quilting being promoted.  I have just received the Red Cross mailing for its summer appeal.  The Red Cross always chooses a theme for this and this time it is the Changi Quilt.

I have known about this quilt for some years because there was an article about it in The Quilter at some point.  Changi I have known about since childhood because Singapore and the Fall of Singapore was much talked about in New Zealand when I was a child.  I cannot think of anyone I knew personally who was interred but in later life I worked with someone whose father-in-law lost his wife and children when they were torpedoed as they left Singapore for Australia.  Her husband was the eldest child of the second family, born after the war.  Whole families were interred in Changi under extremely harsh conditions.  As the Red Cross mailing says, the quilt was begun with the encouragement of a Red Cross representative who was one of those held.  Each woman was given a square of white cloth asked to 'put something of herself' into the square along with her signature.  As you can see, many people chose to depict things from their life outside prison

Memories of home are represented in flowers of different types

The completed quilts were given to wounded male prisoners who were interned in a different camp.  In this way they knew that the women and children were still alive.

I rather regret never having been to the Changi museum in all my trips to Singapore although I have always thought it would be a somewhat harrowing experience.  On my last trip, in 2008, I did go to Changi village, however.  One of my nephews was working in Singapore and as he and his wife were living near the airport, we spent a Saturday evening at Changi Village.  It is a popular picnic destination for people who live in the high rise appartments in the city.  We walked along the boardwalk

and took photos of the amazing clouds

but unfortunately I did not take any photos of the picnics.  People had brought everything with them (by bus): tents, food, small TVs and even their cats.  First I saw a cat on a lead down by the river.  As someone who trained cats onto leads I was not totally surprised by this but later I noticed other cats wandering round the tents without a lead in sight.  Obviously they enjoy their Saturday outings too.  People were cooking satay on barbecues along the beach.  All this took place directly under the flight paths from the airport and only a few hundred years from the perimeter fence.  This is a very different Singapore from the one most tourists see and a real treat.

Repeated stopovers in Singapore finally led me to read a whole book on the Battle for Singapore and the Malay peninsula.  I do not normally choose to read serious war histories but, although it was heavy going, it really added to my understanding of this part of the world.