As you may know, some of the knitting charities I’m most excited about are located in Africa. There is so much need in the continent of Africa, particularly with the HIV/AIDS epidemic continuing to rage. The orphans left behind by these deaths are desperate for a touch of kindness. The Uthando Project is doing its own part to help these children with a special project: collecting and distributing handmade dolls to needy children in KwaZulu-Natal, a province of South Africa. KwaZulu-Natal happens to have the highest rate of HIV infection of any province in South Africa (itself the nation in Africa with the highest percentage of HIV-positive citizens). What makes the Uthando Project particularly special is that it provides multiple patterns for dollmaking with a specific purpose: to design dolls that match KwaZulu-Natal children’s own appearance and culture. These are the kinds of dolls that children relate to the most, but in this part of the world they are either scarce or extremely expensive. This is where the dollmakers for the Uthando Project come in.
How You Can Help
In my own opinion, the most exciting way you can help with the Uthando Project is by making dolls. Patterns are available here. One thing you’ll notice on the page of patterns is that they offer three types of knitted doll patterns: a very simple beginner’s pattern, a boy’s pattern, and a girl’s pattern. You’ll also notice you can knit a variety of accessories for dolls, including clothes, toys, and animals. You can even make a “doll wrap” so that children can simulate carrying their “babies” on their backs! You can put together a dollmaking group, if you have a group of like-minded friends who would like to create dolls together. It can be even more fun to make a difference as a group! If you live in Australia or the UK, there are several groups already put together; in other locations, you should feel free to start your own. Information on dollmaking groups can be found here. If you teach a knitting class, or are the leader of any kind of group of children or young adults who would be interested in knitting for the Uthando Project, check out their resources for teachers. Other ways you can help are listed on this page. It includes fundraising and raising awareness of the needs of children around the world, the benefits of play, and the effect of HIV/AIDS. If you’re making dolls, be sure you follow the guidelines listed here. Finally, when you’re ready to send dolls, visit the Uthando Project’s Contact Us page and fill out the form. Be sure to put “Doll Delivery” in the subject, so the Project can contact you and inform you of how to proceed. You can explore the Uthando Project more fully throughout their website; you can also visit their Facebook page for news, inspiration, and online community with other dollmakers. The Uthando Project is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to reach out to children half a world away. I hope you’ll consider supporting this knitting charity with your time and talent!