The Refugee Doll Project

Maryam, The Refugee Doll, is an educational tool to be used in schools, libraries, and multicultural events to foster awareness of and appreciation for refugees. She is the first of such dolls to be produced for this project. Our future plans include making dolls representing school children from Central America and Africa because refugees from these areas are heavily represented in the Commonwealth of Virginia. We encourage you to make your own refugee doll based upon the refugee populations in your state.


Maryam in modest clothing (hijab, jumper, long-sleeved turtleneck, and tights) with two friends.

Maryam, The Refugee Doll may be used with books, lesson plans, and service  projects that help children internalize the concepts of what it's like to be new, to be different, and how-to-be-welcoming. (Please see the appropriate tabs for more information.)  We believe that using refugee dolls as a teaching tool may bolster the self-image of refugee children and may promote greater tolerance of new and different peoples among non-refugee children. These dolls will be donated to libraries, school, and to refugee families.

 I am indebted to the good people of Maine for helping me envision this project. Thank you to Danielle Fortin at the Lewiston Public Library, where their Somalian doll, Samira Ali, is so popular that she must be kept out of circulation to allow her many fans to play with her.  Kirsten Cappy and Anne Sibley O'Brien, co-founders of I'm Your Neighbor, a project that encourages building bridges between old and new communities in Portland, Maine, spent valuable time with me in assembling The Refugee Doll project.