JANINE WELLS and friends are busy working away, making dolls to send to Africa.
They’re part of the Uthando Project, an Australia-wide network making dolls for children of KwaZulu-Natal, a province of South Africa.
Ms Wells, a retired teacher, has been making dolls about five years. They each take five or six hours to put together, and she’s made more than a hundred. The dolls have a number of uses but the project started to try to comfort children who’d lost one or both parents to HIV/AIDS.
“They don’t have anything, these children,” Ms Wells says, and the dolls provide a silent friend to grieving children.
They’re also used by caregivers as a prop to discuss difficult topics. Some children use the dolls to act out funerals or other sad scenes, and they’re helpful for sexual health education.
The Uthando project has a fundraising exhibition at Kidogo Arthouse in Fremantle July 14 to 19, and if you want to get knitting yourself, head to uthandoproject.org to find a local group.
by DAVID BELL