Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Designer Dolls for Darfur

I dislike "high fashion". Now, clothes are definitely useful (especially, I'm finding, in this weird East Coast phenomenon people are calling "Winter"), but the idea that its worth paying $500 plus for a tiny "designer" bag that doesn't even fit anything in it, or the obsessive-compulsive desire to check fashion magazines to make sure what is wearing is "in style" seems like it came from an Alfred Hitchcock movie. ("Can I wear this color with that color? I saw a movie star do it so I guess that means its okay!" Oh how I wish I weren't essentially quoting an acquaintance with that one.)

Now that the skepticism is out there on the table, I have to admit that the "Frimousses de Créateurs" (Designers’ Dolls) project, coordinated by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), seems like a neat idea.

The project started small 6 years ago, according to the Inter Press Service, but has since expanded to the point that about 100 designers, some artists and entertainers have joined and started making dolls for auction.

Just last year, the doll project funded polio vaccinations for more than 160,000 kids and tuberculosis shots for 183,000 babies in Darfur. In 2010, UNICEF expects to vaccinate 260,000 babies and 195,000 pregnant women against tetanus.

The Petit Palais Fine Arts Museum in Paris will be showing the dolls from Nov. 10 to 15 (Road trip anyone? Shoot, there's a big blue wet thing in the way. Oh well.) The dolls will be auctioned off November 19, right before the 20th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (What do you know, yet another UN treaty about guaranteeing human rights the USA hasn't signed! See PDF)

So while I would generally say, "Go, help poor people, participate!" this particular fund-raising event seems catered to a certain population (i.e. the freakishly rich one). So far the most expensive doll that's been sold as part of the project was a whopping 23,000 Euros (Gulp! College tuition, anyone?). In light of designer expenses however, thousands of french kids participate in a similar program, making dolls and selling them for only 20 euros. Their efforts have funded over 10,000 vaccinations in the last 5 years.

YAY Vaccines!

Photo credit: sagespot on flickr.com

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