Many Hands, One Heart

Concept & Mission Statement

All children need safety, security, esteem and value to survive their childhood experiences and their biggest fear of being abandoned. The Hands & Heart Doll Project’s aim is to give refugee children hand-made dolls to show them that compassionate people care about them and that they are not alone in the world: dolls for refugee children to cuddle and love made with kindness by people who love and care about them.

This concept speaks to One-World Consciousness: that we are all connected to one-another and the idea that one child in pain reflects the pain of the world. Showing a child that we care enough to make it a doll with our own heart and hands will make a difference in his or her future life. Love is the strongest force for change in the world and our hands are the instruments through which love flows.

The loving energy each maker instills into the doll will have a direct, positive impact on the Heart and Soul of the young recipient of that doll. After experiencing traumatic hardships, having something soft to hold, feel and love will have an immediate, positive impact on a child’s well-being.

Message from Founder Wendy Ellsworth

The Hands & Heart Doll Project for Refugee Children began organically in January, 2022. As a nationally and internationally recognized seed bead artist and a published author (Beading – The Creative Spirit: Finding Your Sacred Center Through the Art of Beadwork, published by SkyLight Paths, 2009), I work with tribal women in Kenya who are extraordinary beaders. One of the groups I have worked with since 2003 is the Unity Women’s Village in Archers Post, Northern Kenya. In November, 2021, I asked a doll maker to design a doll for them that they could add to the many beaded items they make to sell to tourists and through the Samburu Youth Education Fund website: It will be an ethnic doll, fully clothed and adorned with beaded collars similar to the ones they wear on a daily basis.

In January, 2022, I helped co-create a Circle of Welcome in our community here in the mountains of western North Carolina to assist in resettling the Afghan refugees coming into our county. We will be welcoming 100 Afghan refugees into our communities, half of them being children under the age of 10. I decided to repurpose the doll project for Unity Village in Kenya into a doll project for the refugee children coming into Buncombe County and a friend helped me change the original design into the pattern we are now using for our Hands & Heart Doll Project. We are now offering this pattern free to anyone who would like to use it for charitable purposes to make dolls to be given to refugee children here in the United States.

One of my granddaughters had a stuffed animal she called “Lamby” and she could not go to sleep without her Lamby for many years. Lamby went on many adventures, wore beautiful outfits designed and made by my granddaughter, beaded necklaces and jewelry, and she was perhaps the most important toy my granddaughter had for at least 8 years of her young life. Dolls have a long-lasting, positive impact on a child’s life and we are hopeful that the dolls people make using the Hands & Heart Doll Pattern will indeed help make a refugee child’s life softer and sweeter.

We know that all children, world-wide, love dolls and they are vitally important for creative play. Play is important in the social, mental, physical and emotional development of children and dolls could be thought of as developmental learning tools. The simpler a doll, the more a child will use its own imagination to be creative and spontaneous. A loved doll can carry a child through many stages of development and it will become a beloved part of the child’s world. There is a unity that occurs between a child and a much-loved doll and any parent who knows what happens when the doll is lost or left behind understands this deep connection.

May each of you making Dolls with Hands and Heart continue to shine your Light brightly, knowing that your gift will Light up the Life of a Refugee Child through the Force of Love, the greatest Force of all.

Peace Be With You.

Rev Wendy Neel Ellsworth
Founder: Hands & Heart Doll Project