For the lives of many children, a doll can be a childhood friend or companion. The Progetto Pigotta or Rag Doll Project takes the importance of dolls one step further by giving them a role in saving the lives of children. Started in Lombardy, Italy in 1988 by Boston native and UNICEF volunteer Jo Garceau, Progetto Pigotta works to provide vaccinations and other medical basics to children and mothers in need throughout the world.
Since 2008, the Umbra Institute has been partnering with UNICEF and Maria Luisa Blasi, Coordinator of the Pigotta Project in Perugia. Through weekly workshops, Umbra students have the opportunity to work alongside Università degli Studi di Perugia and UNICEF volunteers creating these important lifesaving dolls, as they share their cultures and lives with one another.
This semester, 20 Umbra students joined these volunteer efforts. After an initial briefing about UNICEF, its mission, and the Pigotta project, students eagerly began creating their own dolls during the first workshop in October. Over the past six weeks, these volunteers have slowly pieced their dolls together; stuffing cotton, stitching seams and hair, sketching facial details, and adding the finishing touches of clothing and accessories. Final results varied from girls with braids and black hair with purple highlights, to boys with green suspenders and fire-red locks.
The completed Pigotta dolls will be on display and up for adoption just in time for the holidays at various Christmas markets throughout Perugia.
Next Wednesday, UNICEF and Umbra volunteers alike will gather to celebrate the end of a successful semester and new Pigotta dolls going to save children and their mothers. Joining them will be journalists from local newspaper, Corriere dell’Umbria, and a TV station. They will be interviewing students about their experience with UNICEF and the Pigotta Project, further assisting UNICEF spread the word about the positive work they are doing within both the local and global community.