Ninki Talks – Rare Bear Project
Everybody, meet Megs.
She’s a quirky, colourful optimist and the driving force behind the Rare Bear Project – an organisation that donates and sells teddy bears. Cute.
But these aren’t just ordinary teddy bears. These bears have been handmade with love by the local women of Kya Sands, South Africa. Once these women were struggling to live. Now they’re empowered with new skills and employment opportunities.
And not just anybody gets gifted one of these unique stuffed animals. Children fighting rare diseases get to keep a bear so they don’t have to fight alone.
So how did the Rare Bear Project start? And how can we help? We sat down with Meg to learn more.
The Rare Bear Project is a project close to Meg’s heart.
At 15 years of age, Megan was diagnosed with a rare disease called Myasthenia Gravis. Throughout her childhood years, Meg was put on a respirator, endured countless hospital stays and at one point even in a coma. Meg decided that she wanted to make the world a better place as soon as she was strong enough. So this ball-of-sunshine of a woman founded the Rare Bear Project.
Meg found an incredible support network through Rare Diseases South Africa. Here she made meaningful connections with others who understood exactly what she was going through.
“I really felt like I found my tribe,’’ she says. “I started out volunteering for them.’’
Following a move to Johannesburg, she put her leadership and marketing skills into action and took over the Rare Bear Project. “It’s really a passion of mine.’’
The Rare Bear Project
With their bright colours, squishy faces and adorable quirks, these unique, handmade-with-love teddy bears are bringing hope and comfort to thousands of sick children. You can even donate one of these beautifully crafted bears to a rare disease patient from across the globe.
Not only will you be helping a child with their battle with disease, but you will also be supporting the women of Kya Sands, who crochet these sweet little characters.
“We have over 40 women working for us,’’ Meg explains.
Prior to learning how to crochet, many of these women were “digging through rubbish bins to feed their children.’’ Meg sadly adds, “they were unhappy, they didn’t have a purpose.’’
Two-thirds of the price for each soft animal purchased goes directly to the woman who lovingly made it. This income means that they can send their children to school, put food on the table and become the breadwinner of their family. The remaining one third goes back into the project itself, ensuring the long term sustainability of this incredible initiative.
It’s a joy to see Meg talk so passionately about these women. Her face lights up as she says, ‘’it’s amazing to see the joy that it brings someone – having a purpose.’’
What’s Meg’s best advice for those who have been diagnosed with a rare disease? Find a support group near you.
“You are not alone,” Meg adds.
With rare disease support groups all over the world, make it your mission to “find your tribe.’’