You might remember me mentioning my amazing friend Jo, cake decorating extraordinaire, and my lovely friend who taught me everything I know about cake decorating, runs an amazing cake business called The Cupcake Gallery, has written 2 self-published cake decorating books (they're amazing by the way) and a children's book. She is definitely THE most creative person I know.
Well, almost 2 years ago she and her husband moved themselves and their 3 kids (who were 5 and under at the time) to Malawi in Africa where they work as missionaries among the local people. Amazing huh!! I still gasp at the thought of packing up a whole family to move to another country where the language is foreign, water and electricity very unreliable and with no one familiar around. Amazing faith is all I can think of that would make someone do that.
Through the miracle of today's technology (Facebook, email, text messaging), I've been able to keep totally up to date with Jo and her family and see first hand what they've been doing ... and let me tell you, they've been busy. While Jo's husband works in local and regional youth ministry, they have also managed to get a grasp on the local language, get involved in their kid's school and start up a fortnightly Kids Bible Club at their home, where they often get more than 100 local children attending. They've also started up a "Garage Friday" at their home and they welcome any local kids who want to come and have help with homework, play, draw or just generally hang out. So a couple of months ago, Jo put a call out for some help with supplying some handmade dollies for the little girls to play with during their time at Jo's house. I think it took me all of about a millisecond to respond and raise my hand. Who could say no to supporting this beautiful family and the precious kids they're working with, but when it involves sewing too ... I'm there!!
And here's what I made. 3 of these gorgeous little ones using the free pattern from Girl. Inspired. which I've made a few times before, and which I really love. It's a great sized doll, and super soft and cuddly. Hannah loves the one I made for her last year and still takes it to bed with her every night.
Oh, and about a millisecond after I volunteered, my Mum (aka Nanna) was on the phone to me saying that she'd love to send over some of her knitted dolls too. She made these beauties ... aren't they cute. She used the Duduza Doll Knitting Pattern. My mum has knitted a tonne of these over the past year or so to donate to kids in need, and they are just adorable.
So we got our dolls together and sent them off with plenty of love attached, hoping they would get there OK. I was so super excited when Jo contacted me via Facebook just a few days ago (you might have seen her post on the What's Mummy Up To facebook page) to say that not only had they arrived, but that the little girls had been excited to play with them.
Another project Jo has been working her tail off on lately has been a new idea she's had for helping the local women learn to sew. Jo has found that many of the local women are lacking skills that they can use to help support their families financially. She's found that if they were to develop a skill such as sewing, they could help to support their families by making even a small amount of income. Jo has spent days, weeks and many sleepless nights sewing beautiful goods lately to sell at a market store to ex-pats and visitors, and has raised enough money to buy a few treadle and hand-cranked sewing machines (they have to be manual machines, as many of these women do not have electricity at home).
And aren't they just the most stunning machines. Jo has found a space in her home to set these machines up and has already started giving lessons to some local women.
Anyway, in case you might want to learn a little more about what Jo and her family are doing, or if you would like to help, follow this link to their website. And if you'd like to make some dollies to send to Jo, it would be so appreciated. You can send them to: Kids Bible Club, SIM Malawi, PO Box 136, Blantyre, Malawi, AFRICA.
Jo's photos have been used in this post with her permission.