My Dolly – Part 1

Hi everyone,

Just a really quick introduction this week before we hand over the the incredible Anna Black!  Anna had the idea of giving each child at Nkoaranga their very own handmade doll, and since then has been busy contacting several amazing dollmakers who have been making absolutely beautiful dolls – one for each child to love and treasure. Here she talks about her idea, how it came about and how it has developed to become a reality (see the pictures below of the dolls from Jennie at Wild Marigold Toys!). This blog will be the first part of two blogs, the second of which will show you the dolls being received by the kids at Nkoaranga.
Anna with her two daughters
‘My name is Anna Black and I am a new member of the Child Welfare Committee for The Small Things.  I have been fortunate enough to be involved from afar in the lives of the beautiful children, Mamas and volunteers of Nkoaranga for a couple of years, since I read about Bekka’s amazing work with The Small Things on Rebecca Woolf’s Girls Gone Child blog.  
‘I have been involved with children and their families for the past ten years in various ways.  I am a Montessori teacher and have worked full-time in a classroom as well as part-time with children and their carers in small activity groups.  The welfare and development of children is a passion of mine, and since having my own children (two girls, now aged 3 and 6) this interest has extended into attachment, emotional security and how to best support joyful learning.
‘Earlier this year I was watching my daughters play with two of their most treasured soft toys.  I could see how much comfort and security they gained from these particular toys, even though they have both been lucky enough to spend their whole lives being loved and cared for by both parents.  I thought how significant such a comfort item might be to a child living without a parent – however well and lovingly cared for they otherwise were.  I knew that although the children at Nkoaranga have access to plenty of toys and games, those toys are of necessity shared.  Building a secure connection to a toy can’t occur very well if the toys are shared.
‘Through my work and parenting life I have often come across Waldorf-style dolls.  These are handmade dolls, usually made from natural materials, and very huggable with lovely appealing faces.  As they are handmade, each one is unique and they can be made with culturally appropriate colouring and features.  Although these dolls are very expensive to buy – over $150 for a larger one – they tend to be made by people who truly love children and toys.  I thought there might be enough dollmakers out there who would make a doll to donate to Nkoaranga so that each child could receive one for Christmas.
‘I was so exited by the idea I started contacting dollmakers immediately and almost straight away heard from Jennie at  She was delighted to be able to offer her help, it was clear that this would be a true labour of love for her.  At this point I thought I had better notify Bekka of my idea to see if she thought it would be something that the children needed and would enjoy.  She was enthusiastic and supportive, so my search for dollmakers continued.
‘Soon Shelley from got in touch and volunteered to make as many dolls as we needed.  And lastly, Susan Healy, of, has also volunteered to make one of her beautiful dolls for Nkoaranga also.  
‘I am so grateful for these wonderful women who are giving their time, materials, knowledge, energy and love for the children of Nkoaranga.  I know they are all keenly anticipating seeing photos of Christmas morning when all the children will be given a special doll of their very own.’
Anna Black
On behalf of everyone at The Small Things I just want to say a massive thank you
to all of you for your hard work in bringing together something which will mean so much to each kid.