The post I planned for this week was going to be about my process of executing a self portrait in oils – a first for me. That will happen, it is just that I needed to attend to a far more important matter, another first, which involved helping my friend Gabby decorate clothes-peg dolls, for an extremely important cause.
Gabby had told me about the cotton dresses she was making for young Indian girls living in dreadful circumstances. I gulped when she explained that many of these girls’ sisters had been sold to traffickers, who pray on families who live in abject poverty. She bought bright coloured cotton fabrics, which some stores donated when she explained what she was doing. One simple dress became twenty simple dresses, hanging in Gabby’s spare room. But Gabby thought she’d like to add something extra; a small doll to fit in the pocket of each dress. I offered to help paint the features of the twenty wee dolls, a slight contribution towards this excellent cause.
We were a production team and worked well together. Gabby made little dresses for the dolls too, out of the same fabrics the dresses were made from. “I wanted to make a tiny doll, that each girl could hold in her hand,” she said, “something that could be hers alone.” I thought that was a great idea and was more than happy to help her carry out that plan. Gradually the round foam heads were painted, left to dry, and the features painted on each. We had a lunch break, a cup of tea, and kept going. We wanted to have these wee dolls finished within the day. Come Friday, the dresses and dolls are to be collected by a local member of the Hope 4 Women International group, who run the Dress a girl around the world programme.
Shoes were also painted on and gradually the clothes-pegs took on a persona of their own. Gabby had the bright idea of attaching beads for different hairstyles. And by the time I left for home most of the work was done. I shall finish painting clothes on the three smaller, stouter wooden ones, and get them back down the road to Gabby. But before these dresses reach the girls in India, there is one further job to be done, as is asked on the website of Dress a girl around the world programme, “that ‘Dress a Girl’ label is put on the outside front of the dress”, as “the label indicates that an organisation is looking after us (girls) and just maybe a predator will pass us over!”
It breaks my heart.