Cayman’s trademark kindness and generosity made their way to both the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics through a special initiative undertaken by local artists at 3 Girls and a Kiln who designed and created trading pins for the refugee team to call their own.

Local teacher Rachel Klein said she was inspired by a social media post from Cayman Olympian Jillian Crooks, who said that the team had no pins to exchange so she gave them one of hers.

This set the ball in motion for Klein to spread some joy to the refugee team, which is made up of athletes who hail from countries in conflict and are selected by the International Olympic Committee and supported to compete.

“During the Tokyo Olympics, our Cayman athlete Jillian Crooks discovered that the refugee team were the only team without any pins. She posted this on her Facebook page. My sister is connected to the refugee team and she confirmed that the team had no pins. This seemed really sad as the Olympic pins seem to be a way for athletes to connect and exchange symbols of their different nationalities,” Klein told the Cayman Compass.

3 Girls and A Kiln co-owner Deborah Kern poses with the donated pins before they were shipped off to the Refugee team. – Photo: Submitted

Touched by their plight, Klein enlisted her friends at 3 Girls and a Kiln – Deborah Kern, Aimee Randolph and Claire Rohleder – to help with this special project for the team.

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No hesitation

Kern, one of the three owners of the Camana Bay shop, spoke of how meaningful the project was for them.

“I don’t think you can ever say that you could put yourself in their shoes and understand how any of the refugees feel. So it’s just nice to think that we can just give them something really nice that will be a memory for them for this great opportunity,” she said.

The team members, she said, had been displaced, and knowing that they could just bring them a little bit of joy made the initiative special.

Kern said the project was different from what they usually do.

82.4 million
displaced people globally

12 million
among them with disabilities

“Without the tourists and with lockdown, we’ve been doing the same projects over and over again. So it’s nice to do something that’s not the same. She [Rachel] let us know just the basics of what she wanted. She sent us the logos to use, the Refugee Olympic Team actually fly under the Olympic flag so we knew that the Olympic rings had to go in there,” she said.

They created two different designs, as the Paralympic team has its own flag.

The project also gave them a chance to use their new equipment, she said, which they secured through government assistance, to cut and engrave the pins.

Randolph said as they set out to create the pins, nine of which were made for the Paralympic team and 36 for the Olympic team, the final product was the result of trial and error.

“I believe that most pins are like enamel pins and they’re made from metal and acrylic….we were going to make something out of wood… Rachel had mentioned [it was] a wonderful thing to use reclaimed wood for the refugees,” she said.

The special pin was created using reclaimed wood. CLICK TO ENLARGE – Photo: Reshma Ragoonath

A rewarding gesture

Kern said they gave the finished product, which took several hours to complete, to Klein, who insisted on paying for them and shipping the pins to the Olympians.

The three women said they were happy to have been able to make an impact through their creative and environmentally sound art.

“I just can’t believe that us here in Cayman are able to help people far away and we’re able to help people who are seeking a place to feel [they] belong to,” Randolph said.

“There’s something about this pin that they can wear and feel like a team when they all come from different places. In a weird roundabout way, that’s how I feel Cayman is… a lot of us are from different places and we… live so nicely here.”

Kern added, “It’s the first thing that we’ve done that’s not Cayman-based, and it’s really nice to just think that other people from around the world are getting to see us.”

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