Meet Chen Yan yan

by AZ on Wednesday, 25 November 2009 Comments
Chen Yan yan is from the Qiang minority, northern Sichuan. Her family went to live in the city since her youth, but her parents were always heavily involved in local life in their home village.
Her mother is known to everyone in the valley as a midwife and her father has been a member of the local council. During the earthquake of May 2008, the houses of the villages and towns of the valley were all destroyed, and terraced fields collapsed or were been buried under mudslides. Chen Yan yan lost her home and spent several months to help with clean-up work in the city and the valley.

While visiting her village, she was very impressed by the courage of the villagers who were almost immediately replanting what remained of their seeds, to ensure a living even before their destroyed houses were cleared. However, the fields were hardly restored when the torrential rains from the summer of 2008 outweighed the beginning of the harvest, ruining these people even more. Their houses were only partly rebuilt, and reconstruction aid was not enough. When Chen Yan yan learned of those who were unable to bear these misfortunes and provide for their families and committed suicide, she was deeply moved. She reflected on the best way to help people around her, and in May of 2009 she set-up workshops in traditional embroidery. The first step was to teach the art to women in villages, so that the tradition could continue. She also considered that these workshops would help the women to find moral comfort at meetings where they could talk, sing and express their grief.
Starting in her parents’ village, she gathered many women who came - often working while singing. As a miracle of life, many husbands have agreed to work at home and take care of the children, so their wives could learn these techniques, some men even embroidered with their wives.

Then, little by little, she visited the nearby hamlets or villages to create similar workshops. To date, she works with 400 people in ten different hamlets. Chen Yan yan is supported by her family. Her husband has taken over her undertaker company, and her 12-year-old daughter accompanies her on trips through mountain roads still half collapsed. Fearing her mother will fall asleep from fatigue, Chen Yan yan’s daughter will sing as she drives. Her daughter also takes pictures of villagers and sings songs. Yan yan’s parents now travel with her in China, as she tries to make the embroideries known and search for contracts.

Yan yan has decided to help these villagers sell the embroidery, to take orders, and to advertise their work and these workshops. For traditional clothes embroidered with wild flowers and birds, Yan Yan had the idea to choose a few designs and have them framed, or to choose paintings with topics linked with the history of the PRC and do embroidery on them.

I would like therefore to introduce Chen Yan yan and her workshops to you. Make known the kind of objects and orders that the workshops can currently take in charge, and solicit your help to advertise this project of hope around you, helping it to develop further.

Thank you.

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Watch a video of Chen Yan yan’s workshop

Attached media :
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