BC Ukraine fundraising: Mother and daughter make dolls

A mother and daughter from Vancouver are working with friends to create traditional Ukrainian dolls to raise funds to help war-affected children.

Eva and her 11-year-old daughter Lena, who declined to share their last names, have been making the Motanka dolls for the past few weeks.

“Lena taught us,” Eva said. “She researched the dolls, so we started reading about her origins and found that she is very close to our culture as well. I’m from Poland, I grew up in Eastern Europe and we also have them in my country.”

Lena said it wasn’t hard to learn, especially when they started working with the right materials.

“We wanted to raise money for families and children in Ukraine,” she said. “So we can help a little.”

Eva said that she and her daughter make the dolls together with two friends who have ties to Ukraine. The dolls are made using a sewing-less technique and each one is unique.

“No stitches, no needles. We only use scissors on the fabric that is not touching the doll,” Eva said. “We wrap fabric around the bases of our dolls, dress them well.”

Layers of colored and patterned fabric are added to the dolls’ bodies for clothing, and each carries a small wrapped package. Some also have a baby with them.

“They bring gifts,” Eva said. “Dolls are very special. They are powerful. They bring peace and joy.”

The dolls are being sold at Make Vancouver on Granville Island, with proceeds going to UNICEF.

The store’s retail manager, Paul Marks, said customer response has been great, with some orders coming in from outside Metro Vancouver.

“Customers were super engaged and excited about it,” he said. “Make Vancouver will be matching all donations dollar for dollar.”

Larger dolls sell for $40, medium-sized dolls for $25, and small dolls for $15.

Eva and Lena have just dropped off their third delivery of dolls at the store on Saturday. Eva said they likely surpassed the fundraising goal – which Lena started by selling bracelets and key chains – and raised about $2,000 in four weeks.

“We are still contributing and we want to continue,” said Eva, adding that they are also thinking about holding workshops to teach others how to make the dolls.

“It’s bringing communities together and people can learn something about other cultures, which is also beautiful.”

Eva said the message they hope to share is to “take care of others in need.”

“Be kind together. Support each other,” she said. “It is very necessary these days.”

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