Monday, January 16, 2012

Teddy Bears in Botswana

A few months ago, I got an email out of the blue from an organization called Mother Bear Project. Mother Bear gets people to knit teddy bears which are then sent all over the world to Orphaned and vulnerable children. I agreed to let them send me some bears and after a few months, I was staring at 4 large boxes sitting on the Post Office floor. The boxes were so large that the postal workers refused to bring them to me and I had to walk around to the back and move them myself. Inside the 4 large boxes were 200 teddy bears.

The only requirements when I handed them out were that I was to take a picture of each child receiving his or her bear. Each bear has a little name tag that has the first name of the person who knitted the bear and the organization wanted to send the pictures to their knitters to show them where the bear ended up and to motivate them to knit more. 

This past Saturday, along with the help of a few friends, I distributed all 200 of the bears. That day at the center was controlled chaos. I had the kids in a big line and brought them into the room to get their bear and get their picture taken 2 at a time. It took about an hour to get them all handed out. The reactions of the kids was interesting. Some were overjoyed and had beaming smiles. Others seemed dumbfounded and walked around like a deer in the headlights. I even made 4 babies cry. They were just fine until I walked up and tried to hand them a teddy. They each took one look at the teddy, then at me, and then started bawling. One even tried to jump out of his mother's arms to get away from me. I guess not all children like free teddy bears after all. A lot of the children have never been given a gift in their entire lives and it was a special experience to get to see all the reactions.

Here is a link to the pictures I took (and it is a cultural thing to not smile in pictures, so don't think that the children were not happy to get their bears):

And here are some links if you are interested in finding out more about the Mother Bear Project: