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     Issue 15: June 2012 • Visit Mother Bear Project online at www.motherbearproject.org
News from Mother Bear Project.

How You Can Help

Donations of postage stamps and tan and variegated worsted weight yarn are greatly needed and appreciated.

Mail to:

Mother Bear Project
P.O. Box 62188

Minneapolis, MN 55426

Mother Bear recipient
Mother Bear Judy
Mother Bear recipient
Mother Bear Mary Ellen
Mother Bear recipient
Mother Bear Ellen Mother Bear recipient
Mother Bear Debbie
Mother Bear recipient
Mother Bear Susan

Mother Bear Recipient
Mother Bear Barbara

Featured Mother Bear: Charlie

Charlie Merrow has made immense contributions to the Mother Bear Project without ever picking up a single knitting needle or ball of yarn. As a Peace Corps volunteer in the KwaZulu-Natal province on the eastern coast of South Africa, Merrow has distributed 100 bears to children in his community.

“Many volunteers here in South Africa, and all over Africa, participate in distributing Mother Bears,” Merrow said. “And most will say that it is one of the most rewarding experiences of their service.”

KwaZulu-Natal has some of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS of anywhere in the world. Merrow works on HIV/AIDS outreach by educating the community and working to raise awareness, particularly among youth, orphans, and vulnerable children.

“I spend my time all over the community attempting to help as much as possible where ever I’m needed, be it at the schools, the community center, or with my host family helping host siblings with homework,” Merrow said. “I also volunteer at the one and only community based NGO in my village that distributes ARV medications, has a bi-monthly clinic, and feeds the orphans and vulnerable children of the community.”

Merrow also teaches Life Orientation classes to seventh grade students at the village primary school. He teaches the students about general health and nutrition, as well as other life skills.

“Recently, I started an after school Boys Club to provide a safe environment for grade seven boys to come together and to grow as intelligent and responsible individuals, while learning valuable life lessons and skills to enhance their futures,” Merrow said.

Featured mother bear

But Merrow insists that one of his most rewarding experiences during his service has been distributing Mother Bears.

When he received his first 50 bears, Merrow gave them to the children who came to the community center every day to eat lunch. The majority of the children are orphans due to HIV/AIDS, and the bears were their first and only toys. The second shipment was donated to the crèche—the village kindergarten—where the children were equally overjoyed.

“The community I live in is extremely poor and very rural,” Merrow said. “The majority of families in the village simply do not have the resources to provide toys to their children. The money that families do make must go to food, shelter, and water, so toys are merely not a priority in the rural villages.”

Merrow explained that the bears are particularly important to the thousands of children who have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS in South Africa.

“The bears represent love,” he said. “Love is something that every human being needs and requires and is something many orphaned children are missing.”

Merrow also expressed his gratitude to all of the knitters who have contributed bears: “The work you are doing at Mother Bear Project is amazing and, although you do not get to hand out every bear you knit yourself, know that your work is appreciated by both the volunteers who distribute them and by the children who receive your work and will always love their bear.”

Amy's Corner


As June approaches, I cannot help but think this a time for me to reflect on all that is new and all that I must say goodbye to.
In June I will watch my son graduate from high school. This is the same young man who used to call me Mother Bear long before I ever knit bears and who will soon head off to college to begin the next chapter of his life. I am filled with pride and know that saying goodbye will be bittersweet.

June will also be the time I say goodbye to our Brazilian exchange student. This is the young man who surprised me when he first moved in by asking me to show him how to knit so he could make a bear. I was amazed to see how fast he learned to knit. Week after week, I encouraged him to finish another bear limb, and sure enough, Felipe finished his Mother Bear! This is our first Brazilian bear!

Mother Bear from Brazil Felipe and his bear

In June we added a few new countries to our list of where the bears go: Vietnam, Guinea and Mozambique. Mother Bear Project continues sending bears to any emerging nation with children affected by HIV/AIDS when we find appropriate bear contacts. Bears continue coming in and going out at a steady pace, and with each box I send, I think of the children who will soon have something to cuddle and something that will help lighten their hearts.

Wishing you a summer filled with new possibilities,

  Amy red flag