Stories in Cloth: Maria

In 2010, Maria’s teenage daughter was raped and murdered. Stunned, and fearing for her own life, Maria nonetheless managed to escape Colombia and flee to Ecuador. There she also lacked the safety needed for grieving; Maria remained frozen in silence. When she joined Common Threads Project, she did not speak or make eye contact. She was flattened by depression and cut off from others. Despite her initial reluctance, Maria found support in CTP’s women’s circle. She had never spoken about what happened to her daughter, but in the women’s circle she managed to stitch the memory into her story cloth.

Her “sewing sisters” learned how best to support her as she created this dark graphic of paramilitary violence. The circle shared stories of traumatic loss, and how to cope with flashbacks, nightmares, and survivor guilt. Maria listened intently and seemed to take in all that went on in the group. After a few months, Maria added two bright elements to her textile – a rosebush and a yellow bird. When asked about these by her peers in the circle, she said, “That rosebush is my daughter’s soul that goes on blooming. That yellow bird is her voice-I can hear it again.” With the help of her Common Threads Project circle ,she was finally able to grieve and make her way toward recovery.

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