How You Can Help
Donations of postage stamps and tan and variegated worsted weight yarn are greatly needed and appreciated.
Mother Bear Project
P.O. Box 62188
Minneapolis, MN 55426
|RECENT BEAR SIGHTINGS
Mother Bear Ellen
Mother Bear Mary Alice
Mother Bear Joan
Mother Bear Gisela
Mother Bear Mei
Mother Bear Molly
Mother Bear Sara
Mother Bear Ellen
Mother Bear Grandma Cilla
Featured Mother Bear: Donna Coleman
When Donna Coleman read a news article in 2003 about the high expense of shipping Mother Bear Project bears to Africa, she approached the organization with a unique proposition.
"My husband and I were planning to travel to Zambia, so I thought maybe we could deliver bears." Coleman said. "I remember saying to Amy that I was not really interested in knitting bears but could deliver them to her contact in Lusaka, Zambia."
Several months later, Coleman spent two days delivering bears to Zambian schools and clinics. Some of the children at the schools put on performances for their arrival. At one school, "young girls danced and sang a very poignant song about their lives" Coleman said. "The chorus was ‘We shall overcome someday!'"
Coleman also witnessed the unfortunate realities of HIV/AIDS care in the region when she had the opportunity to visit hospice care facility run by a young American woman.
"With a bachelor’s degree in public health administration, she managed the clinic using only basic outdated laboratory equipment," Coleman noted.
It was in a school far out of Lusaka--a school with two nearly empty classrooms housing only a blackboard--that Coleman met a woman she says she will never forget.
"She was sitting on a tree stump, helping a little boy with his lessons. She said the most profound thing to me: ‘We are a peaceful people; we do not fight each other or go to war.' A picture of she and her student hangs in my home."
When Coleman returned from Zambia to her home in Minneapolis, she became involved in the Mother Bear Project in variety of ways.
"I am a heart surgeon of sorts---sewing hearts on bears twice a month," Coleman said. "For several
years my ninety plus years father rolled yarn for the MBP. He even attended several Mother Bear Project volunteer appreciation teas!"
Coleman even began knitting bears, something she had said she was not interested in doing when she first became involved.
"I have seen several of my bears in the arms of children---some babies, some toddlers," she said. "One picture is of a girl who appears to be older. She is looking straight into the camera and has a very serious expression on her face. I wonder what her story is."
Coleman believes that one of the most important successes of Mother Bear Project is the awareness it has raised about HIV/AIDS.
"The project has spread good will to the children who receive bears but equally important is how the project has spread information about HIV/AIDS to knitters," she said. "Each knitted bear has educated the knitter about the suffering of the children in Africa."
With the holiday season upon us, Coleman offered a clever idea she used last year to give back during the holidays: "Last Christmas I asked our dinner guests, 30 in all, to bring tan and variegated yarn for the MBP," she said. "It was used to make kits that are available on the website."
As I write, I glance down at the red dirt still covering my shoes. I just returned from a trip to rural Namibia where I distributed 2,200 bears. With every box opened, I knew that each bear was made with much love, and everyone that touched the bears before they reached their destination, handled them with great care.
I must tell you that the bears brought instant joy. Some children cradled their bears, others put them on their neck (piggy back style) while others simply held them close. One little girl took off her shoes and put them on her bear’s feet with much delight. The children couldn't believe the bears were theirs to keep, as they have never had anything of their own.
This trip was very unique in many ways. Our bear contact, Alexia, took us to remote, rural areas where perhaps bears may be needed most.
We travelled across bumpy, rocky roads, sometimes for hours, to distribute bears to children in settlements, schools, feeding centers and farms. Sometimes we passed giraffes, zebras, warthogs and donkeys on the road, but even a shredded tire didn’t stop us for long.
Bear by bear, all 2,200 bears were distributed with love as they were intended. I ask that this holiday season to please include Mother Bear Project in your holiday giving. We have now sent over 69,000 bears but as the overseas shipping costs rise every year, we need your help to continue sending comfort and love in the form of a bear.
Please consider sponsoring bears or purchasing Mother Bear ornaments for gifts (Mother Bear Gifts on motherbearproject.org) Every ornament purchased helps us send 6 regular sized Mother Bears to Africa.
If you would like to see more photos from my trip, just go to the photo gallery and scroll down to the box that says, "Amy Distributes Bears in Namibia October 2011."
Thank you for everything you do for Mother Bear Project!
Wishing you a joyful holiday,