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Get crafty for HIV/AIDS affected children

The Uthando Project began making dolls as a response to the impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic on families, in particular children, in KwaZulu Natal (KZN), South Africa.

Children’s lives are deeply affected by the distress in every family caused by the HIV/AIDS pandemic. To lose one or both parents is a shattering experience for children. Not only are the children who have lost their parents affected, but those who now find themselves sharing the attention of their parents with orphaned children in their community can be very difficult.

But how can dolls help?

The Uthando Project explains:

“Children can deal with the difficulties of life better if they are not alone in their grief and confusion. Sometimes adults don’t know how to have difficult conversations with children, and play can be a way for caregiver and child to connect and talk together. Play may help a child better make sense of their emotions, which often leads to more settled behaviour and everyone in the family benefits.

A doll can become a companion of one’s very own, someone to talk to and cuddle, a silent friend. Caregivers can introduce difficult conversations through the doll (How is she feeling? What would he say?) Children want to copy the daily events in their life, where many see bewildering signs of illness and death. They may want to act out funerals, or other sad scenes, allowing them to release their feelings through play, and allowing a sensitive caregiver to learn more about their inner world.

The effects of having a doll (for both boys and girls) cannot be overestimated. Imaginative play with dolls can give confidence, creativity and an understanding of where you fit into your community.”

Do your part this Harmony Week

As part of Harmony Week (March 15-21) the Uthando Project team are holding several events for the WA community, including beginners, to participate in making a member of a Zulu family of dolls, in one day (does not include Thornlie event).

These completed doll families will be carried, by hand, by five Uthando dollmakers visiting KZN to meet up with partner agencies.
Register for your chosen event either by email to or the specified phone number provided below:

Thursday 17 March 9.15 - 3pm
Spearwood Senior's Centre, 9 Coleville Cr, Spearwood
Contact: Doris van Keulen 08 9418 1252

Friday 18 March 9.15 - 3pm
Sudbury House, 30 Chesterfield Rd, Mirrabooka
Contact: Robin Hamilton 08 9448 3337

Saturday 19 March 11 - 3pm
Little Scribblers Festival, Walter Padbury Reserve, Thornlie
Dress a doll for all ages.

Sunday 20 March 9.15 - 3pm
Anderson Rd Community Centre, Forrestfield
Contact: Georgia Efford 08 9293 2363
(This is also an Open Day for anyone to drop in to see the Project’s new venue and consider joining in)

The Project team ask if you have a sewing machine bring it along.

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Our Mission

To minimise the impact and further transmission of HIV, other blood borne viruses and sexually transmissible infections. To reduce social, legal and policy barriers which prevent access to health information and effective support and prevention services.