Do you wonder how you can help children in developing countries affected by HIV/AIDS? Have you heard of the Mother Bear Project but were not sure what it was? Do you want to use your creative gifts for good? This charity is ideal for a person with a creative and giving heart to reach out and help!
With the Mother Bear Project, your passion can give children with HIV/AIDS in emerging countries a new outlook on life. While worldwide, we have seen a 30% decrease in HIV diagnoses since 2010, many children are still left abandoned or orphaned because of the virus.
In 2020, an estimated 2.78 million children aged 0-19 worldwide were living with HIV. It is further approximated that more than 15 million children lost either one or both parents due to HIV/AIDS-related illnesses. The Mother Bear Project is dedicated to providing comfort and works to counteract the social stigma attached to this disease.
Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deeds. – Proverbs 19:17
Why Is The Mother Bear Project Needed?
In emerging nations, the HIV/AIDS epidemic is even more prevalent. A lack of prevention and proper care means that approximately 850 children are diagnosed as being HIV positive every day, and over 350 children lose their fight daily.
An emerging nation is defined as a country that is on its way to becoming an industrialized nation. These countries are often affected by a lack of proper healthcare, a large underprivileged population, poor traveling conditions, and a lack of basic needs.
Low-income people in developing countries tend to be at the highest risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. This is largely due to a lower immune system caused by prior infections, but it is also related to lifestyle, lack of health care, and lack of knowledge.
In these areas, children are affected greatly. Either having contracted HIV/AIDS through birth due to an HIV-positive parent or afterward due to unsterile environments and even, sadly, abusive reasons, children are often left feeling abandoned, scared, and outcast.
A small contribution can make a big difference in changing the way a child feels and creating a long-term belief that unconditional love is out there.
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. – Colossians 3:17
What Is The Mother Bear Project?
In short, The Mother Bear Project is a non-profit organization. The Mother Bear Project aims to provide comfort and hope to HIV/Aids positive children in emerging nations by presenting handmade teddy bears to these children.
The bears were chosen due to being lightweight and easy to ship. Love in the form of a stuffed animal provides comfort and hope to children.
The project has delivered over 152,000 bears and continues to grow in its efforts to remove the stigma of HIV/AIDS in emerging nations. For children who oftentimes have nearly nothing, the simple gift of these bears provides a message of love from someone across the world. For many children, this is the only “toy” they ever own.
How The Mother Bear Project Started
Founder, Amy Berman, traveled to Africa in 2003. She was personally deeply affected by stories of children who had contracted HIV/AIDS due to sexual assault. Some African tribes believe sexually assaulting children will cure them of the disease.
She created the idea of providing hand-knitted or crocheted bears as a form of comfort to these children. Amy credited the idea to her mother, who had knitted bears when she was a child. The only hindrance she saw was her inability to knit!
Amy did not allow this to stop her, and after asking her mother to teach her, she developed a pattern for beginners. She then began teaching others how to knit from her home. The project grew from there.
The project is continuously growing with volunteers from all over the world who are stepping up to contribute. People of all ages and cultures have joined together to provide hand-knitted bears, patterns, and financial contributions!
The Mother Bear Project needs you – regardless of your skill set!
The bears are currently being distributed in over 25 countries in Africa, including Botswana, The DRC, Ethiopia, Kenya, Namibia, and South Africa.
A list is maintained on the site, sharing where they have received bears from. Cities all over the United States are listed, while additionally, the international level is just as impressive. More than 20 countries are being represented as Mother Bear Knitters.
Knitters come from all over, male and female, all ages, and all expertise levels. Patterns are available for even the most inexperienced beginner. Each knitter’s personal level of creativity adds a different aspect to the bear, creating an endless supply of truly one-of-a-kind gifts.
The Mother Bear Project remains committed to providing these bears to children unconditionally!
Above all, love each other deeply because love covers a multitude of sins. – 1 Peter 4:8
Why You Should Get Involved In The Mother Bear Project
In many places, there remains a stigma towards HIV/AIDS. In part, this is due to a lack of proper knowledge. It is also due to the cost of treatment. Children are not only dealing with their own grief of illness but the emotional strain of being treated like a sick person by their community.
HIV/AIDS is most predominant in third-world and emerging nations. False beliefs, unhygienic medical care, and underlying health issues cause this disease to be passed on unchecked.
Sexual abuse and rape are high on the list of reasons that children suffer from this disease. This adds to the emotional suffering, having to cope with the diagnosis of the disease, and additionally, the long-term repercussions of abuse.
Many children are left abandoned at medical centers. Their parents are unable to travel back and forth for their care or are concerned with the reaction of the tribe. It is important to remember that in children, HIV/AIDS disease is attacking a developing immune system.
Children are much more likely to suffer from other illnesses as their immune systems fight to grow while fighting the disease. Illnesses such as pneumonia and bacterial infections are prevalent in these children, while complications such as thrush can additionally make it difficult to eat.
How The Mother Bear Project Fights HIV/AIDS Stigma
The bears provided by the Mother Bear Project provide comfort while these children are exposed to unknown medical treatment, medical centers, and medical staff.
As a child is treated in a foreign place, the bear may provide a feeling of home and familiarity.
Other children have been left orphaned, having lost their parents due to HIV/AIDS. When orphaned, many times, the older children are forgotten about or required to step into adult roles.
These children are crying out for love and acceptance. By getting involved in the Mother Bear Project, you can provide a child with a once-in-a-lifetime gift of love. These bears tell a child that someone is thinking of them.
The bears provided allow the children to feel a part of something and are seen as recognized within their community. This assists in removing negative feelings towards them.
As the children navigate a world of medical treatment and newfound responsibilities, the bears provide a keepsake that they can hold on to in the darkest of times. It reminds them that they are worthy and loved.
Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. – Hebrews 13:16
How You Can Help The Mother Bear Project
You may be thinking, I don’t knit, so I can’t help. You are wrong! There are many ways to get involved with the Mother Bear Project!
#1. Sponsor Bears
If you do not know how to knit or feel you do not have the time, you can always sponsor a bear. Bear sponsorships are available for $10.
The Mother Bear Project sends a bear to a child in Africa with the name of your choice on the tag. You will also receive an acknowledgment that a bear has been sent in your name.
Learn more about sponsoring bears.
As a non-profit organization, the Mother Bear Project also incurs many costs of operation that you can help with. Monetary donations are always accepted and appreciated.
Monetary donations are used to cover shipping costs that some knitters are not able to afford as well as duty fees for the recipients. Other costs that are covered through donations are printing, boxes, and packaging.
You can find more information about how to contribute financially via PayPal.
Additionally, many needs can be met through other donations. Items such as yarn, needles, and even stamps can be donated to the project. Check out this complete list of items you can donate.
#3. Buy Mother Bear Gifts
Purchasing Mother Bear Gifts can help to aid the project in delivering bears to children while providing you with a gift for a loved one, too.
Ornaments are a great gift for teachers or healthcare workers. The purchase of an ornament can send 6 full-size bears to an emerging nation.
Other gifts include notecards, which picture a child with their bear, a complete knitting kit, t-shirts, and hoodies.
The complete knitting kit is great as a gift or a way for you to start your first bear! It includes everything you need to make a full-size bear for a child!
If you wish, you can volunteer your time. In the Minneapolis area, there are packers needed once a month. The project also requires a grant writer.
You can even volunteer to teach seniors to knit bears! This is a great way to support The Mother Bear Project and give back to your local community at the same time!
Related Article: How to Find the Right Volunteer Opportunity
Let all that you do be done in love. – 1 Corinthians 16:14
Knitting Patterns For The Mother Bear Project
Of course, the main way to get involved with the Mother Bear Project is to knit bears. All the bears use the same World War II era pattern. This pattern was chosen because it is lightweight and easy to ship.
They request that the bears do not exceed 12” in height, as they fit 50 bears in a box. Patterns are available for $5 on the website.
A pattern can be used over and over again to create unique bears for the children.
Bears can be dropped off or shipped to several locations.
The project states you will need 3 colors of yarn for a bear and ask that you do not sew on buttons, beads, or anything else that could pose a choking hazard for children.
They also request that you do not use a different pattern. As a project, they would like all bears to be from the same pattern, but you are free to use creativity in making the bear your own unique creation.
If you prefer to crochet, they also have a crochet pattern available for $5. They do not accept store-bought bears, but you can sponsor a bear for $10.
If you would like to knit but are unable to contribute financially, contact the Mother Bear Project today as a volunteer.
If you are a passionate knitter and want another project to volunteer with, check out my article on the Snuggles Project!
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. – Galatians 6:2
Now you know the many ways you can get involved with the Mother Bear Project and why providing a product of love can be so important to a child with HIV/AIDS.
Whether you are an expert or beginner knitter, a bear is waiting for your personal touch at the Mother Bear Project.
Children all over the world are suffering from complications due to HIV/AIDS, the most prevalent being the emotional toll. Your contribution to the Mother Bear Project may change a child’s life forever!
Do you know of another amazing charity that you would like to have recognized? Are you inspired to read about more charities?
Check out the Threads of Love charity, a charity dedicated to helping sick infants as well as the parents of those who have passed away after birth. What a beautiful way to honor those most precious!
If you are still unsure how to contribute, share this post on social media with friends and family! Spreading the word about what the Mother Bear Project does can make a huge difference.
I would love to hear from you! Let me know what you think of this charity or contact me for more information.
Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered. – Proverbs 11:25