While I have finally come around to accept my daughter’s affinity for American Girl Dolls, suddenly Saige and Marie-Grace have serious competition with Rahel, the Ethiopian doll from the Heart for Heart Girls dolls collection.
I cannot say enough wonderful things about Heart for Heart Girls, which are each based on 10 real ten-year-old girls from Afghanistan, Belarus, Laos, India, Ethiopia, and beyond. I really like that each one one gives your child a chance to learn more about her story and her area of the world, while a dollar from each purchase is donated to a nonprofit that helps the actual community the girl comes from.
At first glance you realize the terrific quality and attention to detail of the dolls, from the jewelry and authentic clothes (the sandals actually stay on, whoo!) to the friendship bracelet your own child will put on immediately. Checking out Ethiopian doll Rahel in person, I was taken with her gorgeous hair and authentic clothes. And I have to say it’s so nice to see an African doll that actually looks African, and not like a dark-skinned Caucasian. More so, I love that she is country-specific, as the African continent is diverse, and an Ethiopian doll is a lot different than a Kenyan or a Ugandan doll might be.
Also, the $24-28 price tag is a refreshing change from others that might be on your kid’s wish list. I’d even pay more, considering I don’t have to brush their hair six times a day to keep it from turning into dreads.
While the dolls look beautiful, know that their backstories in the accompanying storybook don’t pull a lot of punches. Each of the girls faces tougher and more realistic situations than the stories described in the AG empire (especially because they’re all current, ongoing issue you can read about in the news); but of course the girls always demonstrate the fortitude and courage to work through them and persevere.
Kids will learn that Zelia lives on a coffee farm in Sao Paolo. Dell is from Appalachia but had to move after her father’s coal mine closed. Nassam hails from Assam, India where lots of girls her age pick tea for low wages, clean homes and marry very young. Lilan is being raised by her grandmother in Belarus since her parents had to leave her to find work. And Shola lost her whole family in the war in Kabul, and is often hungry and afraid until she discovers a circus willing to train her to entertain other children in her situation around the country.
Not that these stories are a bad thing. My six-year-old and I ended up having a great conversation about malaria in Ethiopia, why it’s so important for us to support vaccination programs that save children’s lives, and how something as simple as mosquito nets can literally change whole communities.
All because she has a new 14″ best friend who now sits at the dinner table with us every night.
Please note: The dolls’ charity partner is the Evangelical Christian organization WorldVision.