Liz Kuhn first heard of Bhutanese refugees resettling in the Akron area and the many children who did not have coats during a monthly meeting of her garden club.
This was the beginning of a relationship between Liz, her husband Terry Kuhn and the local Bhutanese refugee community that would go far beyond keeping children warm.
Liz is not sure how it happened, but someone found out she was a weaver. The refugee women were weavers and were provided looms in the refugee camps of Nepal by Oxfam but were unable to bring them on the journey to America. Each person could only bring one suitcase, so the looms were out of the question.
Liz and Terry opened their Kent home to the weavers and were suprised when more than 50 women, a few drivers and interpreters arrived. Terry showed a presentation that included images of looms in an effort to figure out which type of loom the women had used. When the image of a backstrap loom appeared, the room came alive as the women started making noises and pointing. Terry and Liz knew they had to create this ancient loom for the group. Through an internet search, Liz finally found a tutorial on how to build the backstrap loom and their work began. Today the women are creating amazing handwoven bags that are sold at several different locations in the Akron area.
Liz and Terry have made a commitment beyond weaving by mentoring the Ghimirey family. The family's two teenage children often spend weekends at their Kent home. I had the opportunity to visit the Ghimirey family on a Sunday afternoon with Liz and Terry. It was beautiful to see the connection and commitment despite the language barrier. I left thinking how incredible it would be if everyone would "adopt" just one refugee family. What a difference it would make.
If you are interested in learning more about the Bhutanese refugees and Woven in Exile please visit their website.