Mother Bear Project
Newsletter #34 – March 2017

“In the light of service, who we are does not change but our true potential is given the opportunity to shine!” -Nick Daher
 

Featured Mother Bear

Nick Daher

Most people plan special outings when family comes to visit. Nick Daher is no different—but his idea of something special might be: He timed everything so that when his parents showed up to visit, they could help him hand out 165 teddy bears to pre- and primary-school children.

Of course, Nick’s parents had to travel farther than most families do to see their kids, going from his hometown of Sonoma, California, to rural Swaziland, where Nick has been a Peace Corps volunteer since July 2015.  

“By word of mouth, I was inspired to participate as other Peace Corps volunteers were sharing how beneficial [Mother Bear Project] is,” Nick says. “At the time, my parents were coming to visit, and this was the perfect opportunity for them to participate in a meaningful experience with the community.

“Participating in the Mother Bear Project brought a huge breath of love and compassion to the whole community as we passed out each bear to the younger children,” he adds.

The community Nick works with is among the most vulnerable. Swaziland has the highest rate of HIV in the world, with 28.8% of people ages 15 to 49 infected, according to the latest estimates from UNAIDS. 

“As a Peace Corps volunteer in Swaziland, our primary efforts are to face the challenges associated with the highest rate of HIV among any country in the world,” Nick says. “As a result, there is a large number of orphaned and vulnerable children. At my post in rural Swaziland, we have created life skills clubs to educate the teenage population.“

Nick worked with the school in advance to figure out the logistics for distributing the bears, making sure to involve his parents. The timing worked out just right, with the bears arriving in Swaziland one day before his parents did—and they had the added advantage of having a rental car to transport the three huge boxes of bears to the school.

Once the bears were at the school, the head teacher brought the children out one classroom at a time. 

“She then translated my message of how the bears were made all over America and other countries and flown here to be a source of love and friendship,” Nick says. “My father matched each unique bear with the smiling child. My mother snapped their individual photos, and I gathered and kept them entertained for a group photo. 

“In this process, the children played the most important role—accepting and caring for their special bear with open arms and big smiles. After the group photo, they ran back to class, clutching their new friends and screaming with joy!”

Nick says the Mother Bear Project extends far beyond the simple gift of a teddy bear and wants to thank everyone involved for providing “a service that is selfless by nature.” 

“The Mother Bear Project is absolutely important because it nurtures the very reason why I choose to serve—human kindness,” he says. “I believe its impact reaches far beyond physical value and into all of our lives. The process from beginning to end grows love and compassion in the hearts of all involved.”

Recent Bear Sightings

Adventure Mother Bears


Mother Bear Cindy and her bears visit the Orville Redenbacher statue in Valparaiso, IN.


Mother Bear Catherine and her bears enjoy a beach day in Riviera Maya, Mexico

Notes from the Den

Dear Friends,

What fun it was to have a Mother Bear Project booth at Stitches West this year! We had a lively booth, filled with enthusiastic volunteers, many future bear makers, and of course, lots of colorful and creative bears. So many bears were dropped off, and we were busy sewing on their hearts and trying to keep up!

Although we have now sent 131,600 bears, the need for them continues to be great. The countless photos we receive show the children and their bears-- typically their first and only toy. But what the photos do not always show is the complete joy they feel and the comfort they receive when they have something soft to hold. Our bears let these children know that someone cares.

Mother’s Day is approaching on May 14, and it is a perfect time to sponsor a bear. For a $10.00 donation, we will name a bear in honor or memory of your mother, grandmother or friend, and send a card out if you would like. The bear will be sent on to Africa and a child will soon be calling their new friend and object of comfort by their name. If you'd like to sponsor a bear for this occasion, please place your order by May 7.

Amy

P.S. Donations of colorful variegated and tan worsted weight yarn and Forever stamps are needed and greatly appreciated!

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