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World Doll Day: Delhiites set the doll rolling for a cause

By, New Delhi
Jun 10, 2023 12:24 PM IST

Bound by the common thread of hope, these cuddly toys are here to spread smiles and make the world a better place. Now, these cuddly toys not only bring joy but also facilitate women empowerment and pave a path for environmental awareness.

Pretty, proper and perfect — this has almost always been the definition of dolls that are carriers of our childhood memories. Lending us a world of endless imagination, the dolls today come with a message of inclusivity, diversity and environmental safety. On World Doll Day (June 10), some Delhi-based doll makers redefine the age-old concept of creating this toy was a crucial character of our playtime.

These cute dolls are redefining playtime for children by bringing an idea of change in society.
A woman from Afghan working on a Silaiwali doll at their workshop in Panchsheel Vihar, Malviya Nagar.

Dolled up for environment’s sake

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“The idea behind the concept of these dolls was to address two important missions - environmental sustainability and solidarity for the marginalised artisans,” shares Iris Strill, a French product designer and co-founder of Silaiwali, a 2018 born initiative that started with ten Afghan women refugees. Strill adds, “The upcycled dolls are made from fashion waste that serve as a tangible representation about how industries should focus on conscious consumption as that’s where the waste fabric is sourced from.” Adding about the process of how these dolls are made, co-founder Bishwadeep Moitra shares, “The waste fabric that is sourced is sorted, cut, and transformed by Afghan refugee women artisans into various doll components. These components are meticulously stitched together, incorporating traditional embroidery, sewing, and crocheting techniques. Each doll reflects the unique identity of the artisan who crafted it, making it a truly special and one-of-a-kind creation.”

Ginny, a doll, comes with the idea of teaching children about inclusivity and how being different is okay.
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Doll of inclusivity

“The conversation around how there’s a need to make children understand disability, diversity and inclusivity, struck me when I was looking to explain this to my son,” says Shweta Verma, co-founder of Ginny’s Planet. Established in 2019, the initiative is represented by a Ginny, a doll that speaks about disabilities. “Ginny has a radial club hand with nine fingers and wears thick spectacles to see around. Ginny needs to wear a brace to support her wrist. The doll helps parents and teachers to begin conversations on diversity and being different from those around us.”

A woman from the Nithari village at Sakha Ek Pehel makes crochet dolls of cartoon character and eminent personalities.

A doll calming the hunger for strays

“When Covid struck the market, the nominal pay workers of Nithari as well as the strays were left equally hungry, that’s when the initiative to make crochet dolls came into being, sufficing all the hungry stomachs at once,” says Vibha Chugh, founder of Sakha Ek Pehel that started in 2020. She further adds, “We started the journey with five women and now 80 women are working with us. The main aim? To provide financial freedom to the underprivileged women from Nithari village as well as taking care of voiceless animals like dogs, cows and bulls. We are focused on their feeding, neutering and their medical needs.”

Author tweets @maisha_scribbles

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