Projects such as “Dolls for Africa” touch the hearts and minds of children, sparking the growth of compassion, awareness and understanding. By involving children in international initiatives, the Kids to Kids program creates bonds of global friendship and gives physical and emotional support to children in times of need. As our founder, Sri Chinmoy, embraced the ideals of the United Nations, his projects for children reflect UN principles, providing an avenue of action for young citizens of the world to be of service to their peers in distant countries.
Gifted Education Program, Madison County Schools, Mississippi
After learning about the “Dolls” project and the story about how children in a clinic near Cape Town had only one broken doll to share among them, al of the students enthusiastically embraced the idea of helping to make sweet, simple cloth dolls to send to children in need. They also make clothes for the dolls. These students benefit from this labor of love in the knowledge that their help is actually needed. It is our belief that helping children to experience the joy that comes from doing for others will foster altruistic instincts that will become a part of who they are. One of the kids said “This is the best thing I’ve ever done for someone else”.
Helping ourselves by helping others
By Sibyl Ross
Gifted Education Teacher, Highland Elementary School, Madison County Schools, Ridgeland, Ms.
What began as a little project for my 3rd through 5th grade gifted students to work on in my class has become an experience that has had a profound impact not only on my students, but on myself as well. While researching the Kids to Kids International Program, I learned about the Dolls for Africa Project.
Even though our schools were closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic, I started making plans to engage my students in this project because I felt that it would help them cope with their own anxieties about the uncertainties they were facing. I thought that by having a way to give of themselves to assist other less fortunate children during uncertain times, my students would benefit emotional y from the experience.
Last summer I bought fabric, downloaded the patterns from the Dolls for Africa website, and cut out the dolls. I felt that I should have the cutting done when school started. I also ordered a sewing machine for my classroom. When we finally returned to school in September I told my students about the Oneness Hearts Smiles program. I emphasized the words of Sri Chinmoy: “When we establish our oneness with the rest of the world, we feel the entire world as our very own. When I offer something to you because you are in need, I feel that I am serving myself. This is the spiritual approach – not charity, with its feeling of superiority and inferiority, but service, which is based on oneness:.
I especially wanted my students to approach this endeavor with a spiritual attitude and not one of superiority/inferiority as Sri Chinmoy said. I showed my students the Oneness Heart Smiles website, and gave them as much information as possible about the history of how the program began and how children around the world have been helped. They also learned about other schools and organizations that have participated in the Dolls Project.
The students were motivated and excited to get started on the project. They have made clothes for dolls, painted faces on dolls, stuffed and sewn the dolls. Many of the kids got to sew on a sewing machine for the first time and always wanted to do more. Almost daily a child will say to me, “Mrs. Ross, may I sew now?” or “may I work on the dol s?”. It has been heart warming to see how dedicated my students are to this project. They understand that the payment they receive for their hard work is the emotional fulfilment that comes from giving of one’s self to another person. I asked the students to write a sentence or two about how they feel while working on the Dolls Project. Eight year old Daniella wrote “When I make the dolls, I feel I am helping the whole world and I feel happy”. I thought of Sri Chinmoy’s words and I said to myself “they get it!”. This has definitely been a labor of love for my wonderful kids.
I am deeply grateful that I was able offer my students the opportunity to be involved in the Dolls For Africa Project. I have been a teacher for thirty five years, and this is one of the most rewarding endeavors of my career. As I start to plan for retirement, I feel that I am going out on a good note and maybe I have made a difference in a child’s life along the way.
How it makes me feel when I am making a doll for a child
Comments by students from Highland elementary school, Madison County schools
Raneem (age 10): when i’m doing something to help another child it brings this ray of happiness in my body like a camp fire that warms up my heart.
Micos (age 9): for me to give something to a child who doesn’t have much, i feel special. Like, if somebody else won’t do it, then i will. It is my pleasure to do at least one thing.
Nevyn (age 10) making these dolls is a wonderful activity that sparks joy. that doll may encourge the child to go on and become a good
member of society.
Daniella (age 8): when i make the dolls i feel like i am helping the whole world and i feel happy.
Riley (age 8): i enjoy making dolls because on the inside i feel like i am one lucky person to be helpinglittle children. this helps me know that i am a good person.
Zion (age 9): i think i am doing a good thing for the kids. if they don’t have anything to play with they might feel sad and lonely. i think i am making a big impact on them. by giving them the dolls, we let them know we care about them.
Meagan (age 9): doing something for people who don’t have much makes me feel really good. it make me feel like i
can help someone from any other country.
Sila (age 10): it makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside to make the dolls. i like helping all these kids because if i were one of them i would have such a hard time. it would make me very sad if i never saw my mom or dad. that’s why i want to help these kids.
Sophia (age 10): i felt that at lease i was doing something that improved the world. i felt good!
Evie (age 8): making the dolls made me feel happy and calm. it assured me i was doing good for the world.
Sofia (age 8): when i am makign a doll to give to another child i feel proud because i’m doing a nice thing for somebody
Kylie (age 10): it makes me very happy to do this for people who don’t have as much as i have. i hope they love the dolls. i feel for them and i wish i could do more.