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October 13, 2008

A realm mat for children in South Africa

I've spent today making dolls for African kids in Kwa Zulu Natal.
I'm going over tomorrow for a couple of weeks.
It's for The Uthando Project.

Hundreds of people have been making thousands of dolls for the past 2 years. They are given to organisations and grannies in this region who give them to children. A fifth of kids in KZN have lost one or both parents to AIDS. You might see them playing 'funerals' instead of 'house' because they are more familiar with that.
The project builds knowledge of the importance of play in these childrens development. Psychologically it is integral for the process of grieving and expressing emotion. A doll becomes an avenue for this expression. And in a place where play may become devalued in the face of the poverty and tragedy, this doll is making a difference.
I'm going to make a documentary over there about what kind of difference it makes.

I also thought that I could make play mat for the kids to have a 'doll world'.
So after 4 days, Davida and I came out of applique-hell and are done...


Here is the process so you can see how it took shape.


It all started with a rough sketch.


Then I blocked it out on the computer to help with proportions and choose colours. I then chalked it up on the background fabric.


Then there was the whole ironing of fuse to fabric pieces, then cutting out the shapes required. We then peeled off the fuse backing and prepared to iron them to the background sheet.


Davida sewed the applique parts that could be done separately.


Here I am ironing down the entire design before the final sewing of each raw edge. (This is where applique-hell really took shape as getting the whole sheet under the machine and turning tight corners led to hours more time than expected.)
But I'm sure it is worth it to know that children will have this magical world to explore with their new little friends.

If you want to help the kids, buy some gorgeous doll cards, found on the Uthando website - money goes to the project's costs. Or make some dolls!

[current mood] Touch Me (all night long) & Red Wine

Posted by natalija at October 13, 2008 5:13 PM


Dear Natalija,

I hope you are fine.

I envy you that have the resources, time and freedom to use your design talent for the good. Here in Tehran things are too politicized that even helping someone is politicized. In addition, sometimes you find out that you are the one who actually needs help :(

Maybe living under constant pressure made me too selfish.

Enjoying your writing style as always.


Posted by: kasra at October 16, 2008 5:12 PM

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