(Photo: Mark Isfield Memorial Page)
Everyone loves a great tea cozy, but if you are crafty with a set of knitting needles, you can provide an even more comforting gift for a young refugee by knitting them an Izzy Doll.
The Izzy Doll has been a symbol of Canadian peacekeeping for the past 20 years, with the RCMP taking 800 to Haiti last year, according to the Ottawa Citizen.
But this year, with the government taking in thousands of Syrian refugees, there is a great need for the dolls in Canada.
Shirley O’Connell, grandmother of nine and RCMP window, is urging Canadians to pull out their knitting needles and get to work on making the comfort items for the weary families.
“I’m hoping that the attention will cause a lot more knitters to be aware that these innocent children are coming into our country and they’ve been sort of bumped around from place to place, and these little dolls will bring them comfort,” O’Connell told the Citizen.
“It always brings smiles on the faces of children and helps them through tough times so they can hug their doll and talk to it,” she explained to the CBC.
O’Connell has been involved with the Izzy Dolls project for a decade. Since then, over 81,000 of the six-inch, knitted dolls with smiling faces and peacekeeper blue berets have been through her home in Perth, Ont., according to the CBC.
The dolls are knit or crocheted by Canadians. Health Partners International of Canada then distributes them with the Physician Travel Pack, or PTP.
“Doctors and healthcare professionals who carry the PTP, a mobile medical kit packed with essential medicines and supplies for primary health care, give Izzy Dolls to their youngest patients,” HPIC’s website says. “Sometimes the handmade little doll, also known as a Comfort Doll, is a child’s first toy.”
The Izzy Doll project began when a Canadian peacekeeper’s mother designed one for her son to give to children in dire and scary circumstances.
Master Corporal Mark Isfeld was killed in Croatia in 1994 by a landmine explosion. His mother, Carol, continued to create the dolls in her son’s honour, and now the tradition has been taken over by The International Community for the Relief of Suffering and Starvation (ICROSS), HPIC’s website says.
Check out more information on the Izzy Doll and its pattern here.