"I'm a writer living in the Perth Hills with my relentlessly fun seeking children.
Published February 18th 2017
Spreading love is child's play
"when a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, then you become real"
Chances are your first confidante was a toy. We all harbour a special place in our hearts for that worn teddy bear or rag doll, long into adulthood, whether it was because they gave us a feeling of security or just that they always listened. They could be relied upon to be there, providing a feeling of comfort and security in a world where problems and emotions felt oversized.
Everyone needs someone to love (pic Uthando Project)
Change a life
Now imagine you are a child living in third world conditions in South Africa, where HIV and AIDS are rife. Think what it would be like to have lost family members, your home and possibly your hope too. How much joy would it bring you to have something of your own to share your grief with. A doll that could encourage you to give voice to your sadness and let you remember how to learn to play again.
100 Dols, Countless Hearts (pic Uthando Project)
The Doll Project The Uthando Doll project set up in 2004 and has a mission to give children affected by these issues a very real connection in their otherwise precarious lives. It tries to bring children together with their very own doll, which has been made especially for them. These dolls have all been lovingly crafted by volunteers, to reflect the race and culture of the child receiving it. These beautiful dolls are unique. They may look to the child to resemble themselves, or a member of their family or village. They fill spaces in hearts with something tangible.
The project website provides a whole heap of information on making your doll in just the right way, by providing special patterns that will stand the test of time and a lot of playing, without falling apart. Your doll can be sewn or knitted, or made into a glove puppet. It teaches you the right way to make hair and even how to craft the expressions for these treasured toys.
A spare sock makes these knickers (pic Uthando Project)
A small world One of the most beautiful things about these little dolls is the thought and care of making sure each doll has a full set of handmade clothes, from tiny knickers to bags, hats and even a little baby strapped to their backs. If you are a creative type, you will have endless fun making a doll as individual as you are and if your not so crafty, there are even doll kits you can buy that come with everything you need, fabric, pattern and trimming, to create a little masterpiece.
D I Y Dolly (pic Uthando Project)
Filling a need It's hard to imagine who wouldn't want to help a child in need by doing something as enjoyable as making one of these lovely dolls. The only way you could make this idea any better is by sharing it. Thankfully, that is exactly what has happened and there are already five doll making groups that you can join in and around Perth, where you can make dolls while you socialise.
Doll dress ups
Meet up I have a feeling that it would be just as much fun to start up your own doll making group with your girl friends. It has to blow that book club out of the water. I can only imagine the amount of fun you could have with this if you were to introduce it to a classroom of teens, or a scout or guide group.
Raising awareness (pic Uthando Poject)
Even if craft is your personal nemesis, there are still opportunities to get involved in packing dolls and assembling kits, or just helping out at workshops or fundraisers. The project is always in need of donations of fabric and haberdashery, so even just organizing friends to get some of these items together would be appreciated.
Give hope Whilst charity donations tend to go down in tough times, this is a way everyone can give, without having much in their pocket. It's not often you are given an opportunity to reach out at a point of need and do something that may make a lasting difference for a child.
Dolls making new friends (pic Uthando Project)
Getting involved in a doll project is easy. The love and time you put into creating something, shows a child you care and that they are connected to a wider global community. It sends a powerful message that they matter enough to a stranger miles away and that their lives are important too.