“Knitting Group for the Frontlines”
The Aylmer Legion has been playing host to a humanitarian initiative which aims to continue the legacy of the Izzy Doll initiative in Aylmer.
The group calls itself “Knitting Group for the Frontlines” and under the watchful eyes of Manon Grégoire Fleury, the group has already managed to produce 413 Izzy Dolls since March and plans on continuing their work all throughout the summer.
Izzy dolls, also known as Comfort Dolls, are frequently a child’s first toy in areas of humanitarian crisis. The Canadian military carries the dolls and distributes them to children in situations of crisis around the world.
The dolls were created by Canadian Master Corporal Mark Isfeld’s mother Carol so that he would have something to give to the children he met while serving as a peacekeeper. Following his death while serving in Croatia in 1994, his mother continued making the dolls and eventually entrusted the International Community for the Relief of Suffering and Starvation (ICROSS) to carry on promoting, creating and distributing the dolls after her passing.
After over a decade of partnership, ICROSS entrusted to Health Partners International of Canada (HPIC) to continue the mission of bringing comfort and joy to the little children of the world.
The standard humanitarian medical kit for primary care places both essential and life-saving medicines into the hands of doctors and the Izzy Dolls are used to fill up the boxes in lieu of packing Styrofoam.
On a yearly basis, HPIC hands out around 12,000 dolls and Ms Grégoire Fleury hopes that her group “can produce about 1,000 in a year”.
On July 14th, a large number of the group’s dolls were shipped to the HPIC’s warehouse in Oakville, Ontario. From there, they will be sent to Harare, Zimbabwe, for distribution by the Salvation Army of Zimbabwe to rural hospitals affected by Cyclone Idai.
The cyclone caused catastrophic damage throughout Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi, leaving more than 1,000 people dead and thousands more missing in March of 2019.
Along with the Salvation Army, HPIC is in direct contact with the Ministry of Health in Zimbabwe and is planning for further shipments there as well as Mozambique and Malawi.
The Legion will hold “Izzy Café” days on the last Thursdays of June, July and August, as well as regular weekly get-togethers starting in September.
The plan for the moment is to hold another workshop in the fall in an attempt to attract additional knitters and crocheters to help meet that goal.