Love is felt the same in all languages.
This could not be more true than the love between mother and child. As the African proverb eloquently describes, ‘The source of human love is the mother.’
As a mother myself, it is difficult to understand how we’ve come to live in a world of so much hate. Every child deserves to feel as though they belong, they are accepted and most of all they are loved.
In the US the fastest growing population in our children are those that identify as more than one race1. It is devastating to think that they are born into a world that too often criticizes and discriminates against them just because of their racial heritage.
For the mother of Bilen Bella, a project that started as a token of love to her daughter quickly turned into a symbolic celebration of their special family.
I was honored to work with them. This is their story…
This blanket was for a daughter born into a mixed-race family.
I was brought up where race, religion, orientation, etc. simply didn’t matter. So, when I first started this project I didn’t realize how truly special it would turn out to be.
I collaborated over several months with the family whose roots span from North America to East Africa. Each side of the family came together to write letters for the new addition, Bilen. There was one family member who couldn’t write in English so she wrote in her native language Tigrinya, later translated by her husband. It couldn’t have been more symbolic – different languages all expressing the same love and excitement for Bilen.
At the same time, I watched the news saturated with protests, shootings, beatings, and hatred for different religions. These events made me so MAD! I was angry, hurt, confused…. the list of emotions can go on and on. Heartbroken over the state of our world where racism and hate is openly publicized, yet at the same time I had the privilege of completing this blanket.
It was so beautiful to see two families with different religions and belief platforms come together to share and celebrate the gift of parenthood.
…We hope you know how proud we are of each of you, your accomplishments & achievements, but most importantly of who you have become in life. Thank you for giving us the greatest gift, our granddaughter. We know you will teach her its not what you do, but who you are that matters
Their heartfelt words had the purest intention of promising their love and support
- Where the world was forcing segregation, this family was uniting in their love and excitement for Bilen.
- Where others unfairly excluded those different from themselves, this family became stronger in cherishing a new life.
It was so beautiful to see that despite a language barrier, the love, hopes, dreams, support and encouragement for each other was not impacted at all! In so many ways, this was a reminder that the masses do not define the impact of our individual actions every day. A reminder that we can and must continue to hold our values in the midst of social insecurity. It’s ultimately a reminder that we hold the future in our hands in nurturing the lives of our children and that at the end of the day, we can love in all languages.
I never expected that something as seemingly simple as a blanket could resurrect so many thoughts and emotions! This blanket became an icon to represent so many things:
This was a declaration to baby Bilen Bella as she enters into this world that she can keep; to remind her of where she is from, protect her as she grows stronger and connect her to the love her family has given her.
I am so thankful to have had this experience and I truly hope that the words of this family shape young Bilen into a strong and confident advocate for love and inclusion. In a world full of so much hate, this particular Sentiment Blanket provided me with a glimmer of hope!
Do you want to find out more details on this project, or perhaps you already have a project of your in mind? Please contact me for a free quote (or even a quick chat).
Click here to find out more about making a Sentiment Blanket
- Census Data Presents Rise in Multiracial Population of Youth, Susan Saulny, NY Times, 03.24.11 http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/25/us/25race.html?_r=4&ref=us (accessed 3.15.17)