Hearts beating in new homes

By Amy Shanks

About 4500 hand-made hearts from across the world have found new homes with those affected by earthquakes in Canterbury.

The hearts were gathered by Hawke's Bay woman Evie Harris, who started a blog, encouraging people to make a heart to send to the quake-stricken city.

"I came up with the idea about a year ago," she says "I had seen the quake on TV and it just broke my heart. I thought 'there will be a lot of stitchers out there who might want to help'."

Mrs Harris was not prepared for what came next - the hearts turned up on her doorstep by the box-load. Big ones, small ones, all different colours and designs.

There was such a huge response, a five-month exhibition was set up at Canterbury Museum to display them all.

For some Cantabrians, the hearts became a symbol of hope and love to get them through the hard times.

"There were hearts made by a 4-year-old in England and a crippled lady who could barely sew," Ms Harris said.

"It has been a very powerful display."

But over two days last weekend, the hearts were removed from the wall and given to people in Christchurch.

"I was able to hear the stories of earthquakes and heartache," Mrs Harris said.

"Many people told me that they visited the exhibition several times, one lady went at least once a week. "As the hearts were handed out, people were crying, they hugged. It was a very emotional time."

Since the hearts found their new homes, people continue to post updates and messages on the Hearts for Christchurch blog, many thanking the person who made the heart they received.

"One woman said her children went to sleep with the hearts under their pillows."

Even after Mrs Harris returned home from a week in Christchurch, attending memorials and deconstructing the wall of hearts, there was a new box from the UK to unpack.

"The hearts have had a long journey. The gathering of them began a year ago, then there was the wait for the Canterbury Museum to reopen," Mrs Harris said.

"The hearts sent a powerful message. Now, the hearts are with their new owners, every one of them exactly where it should be."


Email: amy.shanks@hbtoday.co.nz

- Hawkes Bay Today

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