Saestremera: When one idea leads to another

Saestremera: When one idea leads 
to another

Last 15 April 2024, we held a simple celebration at the Davao City Jail Women’s Dormitory for the second anniversary of the Healing Hearts Bears Livelihood Project. When I started this, I didn’t see myself devoting all my Mondays in a jail and selling crocheted bears to sustain random strangers’ livelihoods. I’ve never been an entrepreneur.

But that’s just what happened.

I learned Amigurumi, the Japanese art of crocheting dolls, in October 2021 online. It was still the pandemic and we were still stuck at home. The Philippines had just surpassed the 2-million mark in Covid cases just the month before that. By October 2021, the Department of Health was still reporting on B.1.1.318, Alpha, Beta, and Delts variants. While I didn’t become a plantita as I planted vegetables instead of ornamentals, I finally found something that interested me: crocheting cute plushie dolls.

From only knowing how to make a chain stitch, I was soon making my first plushie toy before ambitiously embarking on a 12-piece Nativity set. But afterward, the prospect of doing more just for the sake of creating didn’t hold much appeal.

There must be more to doll-making than just the making.

Enter Yvonne Biyo, my friend who also got hooked on Amigurumi. She said she was sending the small toys she made to House of Hope Foundation for Children with Cancer at the Southern

Philippines Medical Center; toys that fit in the palm of your hands.

Why not give toys that are big enough for a child to hug? I thought. A teddy bear! But at the rate I crochet, only one child will get a teddy bear in a month. But… there must be friends out there who can crochet.

Thus on the evening of 24 December 2021, while waiting for Noche Buena, I made the call through social media. Who wants to crochet for a cause? I got eight friends and friends of

friends, including Yvonne, of course. They all loved the idea.

With SunStar Davao’s Tonette Quintos, OB-Gyne Dr. Joji Salvador, clinical psychologists Tasha

and Apple Sandique, Mercy Uichangco Buenaventura, and Tintin Iñigo Atienza, we made a total

of 53 bears in two months for the launch on 14 February 2022, Valentine’s Day. The teddy bears I called Healing Hearts Bears are designed to be the healing companions of children with cancer.

We promised to donate as many as we can every month. But buddy Kublai Millan wanted more.

He needed at least 300 bears to make an installation art for the Mindanao Art Fair 2022 to tell the story of the Healing Hearts Bears. Haha! I said. It’s as if the volunteers can make more than 300 bears in six months while still making bears for the children.

Go to the city jail, he said. There must be women there who have time to make bears. And that was how I found my way inside the jail, two years ago, and had been leading a livelihood project, meditation, and free pranic healing sessions until today.

With the pandemic already in the past and all but Mercy continuing to make bears to donate, Healing Hearts Bears made by the women in jail are taking up the slack. These are sold to own

as Prayer Companions or to donate as Healing Companions.

Indeed, we can never underestimate the power of one idea…

-o0o-

Email: saestremera@gmail.com, fb: /saestremera, IG: @saestremera

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