Out of Africa – Blankets of Color Changing Lives

Janet with one of her Ugandan “sisters”

Janet with one of her Ugandan “sisters”

Bible Quilt created by Ugandan women

Bible Quilt created by Ugandan women

Linda Eisenhart, Publicity Chair

SaddleBrooke Quilters had the pleasure of viewing an African “trunk show” by new SaddleBrooke Ranch resident, Janet Storton. She made a deep impression on many of our members.

When Janet sold her business in 2007, she had no idea she would use her business and quilting skills to bring hope to the women of Uganda. Janet volunteered to travel to the mountain village of Kapchorwa. She brought quilts for the two children she had sponsored. The village women had never seen quilts and called them “blankets of color” when they learned that they were to sleep with, not to wear! They eat only what they can grow or trade; an income of 50 cents a day is normal. Many women are sole supporters of their families. She returned, bringing sewing machines and fabrics that started a ministry. Janet has since journeyed to Africa 26 times! As the women bonded and their skills improved, economic opportunities and new dreams have emerged. The women named themselves the “Sisters of the Heart” (SOTH). Their story is one of successful economic development in a small African community, where women improve financial security for their entire community.

The American Embassy provided a grant, and additional funds were secured from private foundations. These funds helped build a Vocational Center where the women learn life-sustaining trades. Sales of their quilts, market bags, and other products now fund their community work including loans to widows and single mothers to start businesses; food and care for abandoned children; and medication for women with HIV, keeping them healthy to care for their families.

Cooking skills were added and a catering business was launched. Business and vocational training are provided to those who can’t afford it. Children are healthier, thanks to newly learned hygiene and sanitation, and artistic passions are flourishing. They have company officers and a bank account. Land was purchased to build a guest house that provides additional revenue to the Foundation. That transaction made Ugandan history— SOTH owns the property title, a “first” for women. The U.S. Embassy is pleased with a project that provides a hand-up, not a hand-out. Uganda President, Yoweri Museveni, has also encouraged Storton’s work. He truly cares that villagers can sustain themselves.

Janet is quick to admit, “I have been humbled and honored to call these women sisters. They have taught me humility and how to stay strong under any adversity.”

We are fortunate to count Janet among our neighbors in SaddleBrooke and Tucson! She continues to share the African quilts and raise funds and awareness. She has a slide presentation and can present it to local groups.

To make a donation, contact Janet at [email protected] or make a check payable to: SOTH Foundation, and mail it to 61780 E Happy Jack Trail, Oracle AZ 85623.

Some content for this article was derived from the Sisters of the Heart Foundation website and coverage by The Nugget newspaper in Sisters, Oregon.


SaddleBrooke Friday Quilters provides a place and time for residents to learn and share their quilting experiences, expertise, and achievements, and to socialize with one another.