Uthando Dolls Turn 10 at Santa Maria

What is the Uthando Dolls Project

Uthando Dolls is an international project started in 2004 by a Perth infant, child and family psychiatrist, Dr Julie Stone. Julie spent three months in the Hlabisa District of KwaZulu Natal (KZN) in South Africa. While there, she was moved by the plight of the children, whose lives had been severely affected by HIV/AIDS.

Sadly, playing was not seen as a priority by the busy carers. There were few resources available to encourage social and emotional development of the children. So when she returned to Perth, Julie set about recruiting friends to provide simple brown-skinned dolls to send to the children in KZN. From here, the Uthando Project was born. The dolls are a much loved and treasured toy, for the children in KZN. 

The Story Behind Uthando Dolls At Santa Maria

This is the tenth year Santa Maria has been offering this to students as a co-curricular activity. In 2010, Ashlyn Hars, a Year 10 student at the time, was looking for something different to do to complete her required 20 hours of community service.

“I wanted my community service to involve something that would have a direct impact on those in need. After lots of searching, my mum and I happened to run into Pauline Marlborough, an old work colleague of mums. She told us about the Uthando Project. I immediately knew it would be a most rewarding way for me to not only complete my community services hours but also come out of it with such a rich and heartwarming experience. I loved the project so much and I did close to 100 hours instead of the required 20 hours. Pauline is still involved with the project to this day.”

“The role of a doll is more than a toy. A doll can become a companion of one’s very own, someone to talk to and cuddle, a silent friend.”

The Project Today

The Uthando Dolls project is currently offered to Years 5 & 6 students. This group runs during Term 1 and Term 4. The girls learn about the Uthando Project organisation, while also being able to express their creativity and learn new sewing skills.

Some of our Year 6 students reflect on their time in the group:

Deandra Vaz said, “I enjoyed decorating the dolls with clothes and accessories to give them a personality of their own.”  

“I liked naming my doll. We were able to pick a KwaZulu-Natal name with meaning. I chose to name mine, Sihle, which means mercy and compassion.”, said Zara De Rossi. 

Mackenzie Mews said, “I enjoyed doing some sewing and creating all the parts of the doll such as adding hair.”


Ashlyn is no longer involved with the project but is thrilled the group has continued at the College. “I have always dreamt of going to Kwa-Zulu Natal to see the direct impacts these dolls have, so maybe that is a post-COVID travel plan!”, she said.

What A Term! So Many Opportunities – Jennifer Oaten

As I look back on the past nine weeks, I am so grateful for who we are as a community and what we have achieved. Through the dedication of our staff and the enthusiasm of our students, we have established new connections, immersed ourselves in opportunities and worked through challenges.

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