Inspirational teen to share doll-making passion teaching under-privileged children

2013-08-27 00:00

A RESOURCEFUL teenager has put her love for making hand-crafted dolls to good use by donating 10 dolls to underprivileged children.

Where most teenage girls give away their old bought dolls, Lesley Jung (14) has given away hand-crafted dolls that she makes herself from scratch.

Jung was introduced to Uthando dolls when her cousin in Perth, Australia, sent her a doll-making kit for her birthday two years ago. The kit was from the Uthando Project, which started in Australia in 2004. The project aims to make dolls to distribute to children throughout KwaZulu-Natal.

“I love making them. It’s fun, entertaining and gives me something to do during the holidays. I also love the feeling of making other people happy,” Jung told The Witness.

On average, each doll takes two hours to make. Jung has completed 10 dolls which she is giving to Tree (Training & Resources in Early Education), a non-profit organisation that partnered with the Uthando Project to distribute the dolls. Uthando dolls may not be sold. They must have a complete set of clothes including underwear. Jung has made every­thing from the body of the dolls to their facial features and clothes.

Pam Maltby, Jung’s grandmother, is extremely proud of her hobby: “She didn’t even know how to sew when she got the kit. Neither did I, but a friend gave me an old sewing machine and we both learnt. She absolutely loves her dolls; she says they are her family.”

Not only will Jung continue her doll making in between her school work, she will be spending her school holidays teaching other children in impoverished areas how to make the dolls in the Tree Buddies Programme.

Terry Kass from Tree said: “Lesley is the first teenager in South Africa who has gotten involved in making Uthando dolls. It is usually old ladies in Australia who make them. We are extremely grateful to people like Lesley who make these dolls … she will be helping older kids in the communities learn how to make them so they can give dolls to their siblings and other children in the community.”

The dolls mean a lot to the children who receive them. It is often a huge comfort to them as many come from abused or very disadvantaged backgrounds.

“To see a child get a doll is beyond explanation. Often these dolls are the only dolls they get. They take the dolls, they explore, they see the kind of clothes and accessories that come with it and they love it! They play with them, sleep with them, they adore them. For us to have someone like Lesley, a young teenage girl, spending her time doing this really inspires us,” said Kass.

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