Me and My Doll is a social design project in partnership with the Selyn Socio-Economic Development Foundation based in Sri Lanka. The foundation helps women irrespective of caste, creed, religion or race attain their common goal: to make a better life for their families and children.
The project started in 2008 when I was invited by Selyn founder, Sandra Wanduragala, to Kurunegala, Sri Lanka to work and live with the Selyn community. After a few days of getting to know the manufacturing steps as well as the goals of the people involved, I learned that they were dreaming of building a new school that would be accessible to all.
Me and My Doll materialized with a simple notion of using drawings of their favorite characters made by the school children of the Royal International School in Kurunegala. From that collection we selected six drawings, ensuring that every detail and oddity were kept from six fingers to dental brackets to a bullet belt (we excluded the gun.)
The first step of the process included hand-dyeing the cotton, using only certified dyes, weaving the cotton, and ultimately piecing and sewing together each doll by the women of the community. After the dolls were completed, they were named by their creators. Each doll came with its own little sleeping bag designed in matching colors.
If the the project sounds idyllic it was because the team of Me and My Doll were able to entrust everything else in the good hands of the Selyn team. Its administration is responsible for contracts and ensuring sound working conditions for the women. Proceeds from the sales of the dolls were donated to the construction of a new state of the art school for the students of the Royal International School in Kurunegala.
Next steps for the Royal International School include establishing pre-schools in the more rural parts of Sri Lanka, especially the post-war zones, as they believe that true reconciliation for lasting peace has to be initiated from schools. They continue these endeavors to ensure that future Sri Lankan generations become advocates of success, peace and prosperity in the country.
The Selyn Family wants to work with other like-minded individuals and organizations to share expertise and raise funds to support initiatives that empower the women and youth in Sri Lanka. Their philosophy resonates with that of the great and late Mother Theresa in believing that “What we are doing might be a drop in the ocean, but the ocean will not be full without that missing drop.”
Alexa Lixfeld is the founder of AlexaLixfeld Design, a project enterprise -design studio, consultancy and production company in Hamburg, Germany. Each of the company’s productions is a non-industrial, non-standard, non-exploitative, individually approved good. For more information, please visit www.alexalixfeld.com and the www.selynfoundation.org.