The Sad Red Zelfija doll with a big heart is always there for everybody. The neighbors come to her with all their problems. She listens to them and never says no to any requests. She does everything for her kids who do not help at home. She is a sewing lady who works for no money. But she is not happy: You cannot see her own heart because her life was filled with the obligations due to others. You could not see her own heart in the doll.
The Happy Blue Doll does not just live for everyone else. She says ‘No’ at times, because sometimes she is too tired and cannot make it. Her life is not the sum of everyone else´s expectations. When she serves others, she chooses to serve others.She looks after herself and has some time for herself, even though she has less money than the red doll.
These dolls are teaching aides made by our life skills trainer in our STEP (Skills Training Empowerment and Practice) project in North Macedonia and are symbols of relevant change. The transformation from Sad Red Zelfija into Happy Blue Doll has been one of the most felt pathways of change among our STEP participants.
The end of November gave us the opportunity to listen to feedback from STEP participants after they had completed the Life and Business Skills phase of the project. Participants had taken seminars on Value, Personality, Grit-Resilience, Personal Boundaries, Stress Management and Moving on from loss and trauma. On the business side, they had also looked at skills relating to writing a business plan, budgeting, and marketing.
Here is some of the feedback from this journey – relating especially to themes of value, personal boundaries, and stress management:
”I did not feel I had any value…”
”This changed my life – life is full of obligations…. God did not make me to be a slave…”
”S´muj me thân jo – I cannot say ”no”. I learned to say “no” to guests…”
“How can you be good with kids when you are exhausted? (We are) always thinking about how to please others, never resting, never having a break…”
“I was angry when you talked about being at peace. I am never at peace. But your words (on living a balanced life of rest and work, where input = output) were taman (right on). They changed my life. I could not work any more. I should pull back. You helped me so much. I feel young again. This changed my life…”
“When my mother-in-law (my helper) died, I thought I would never get off the ground…”
“We have no support – we need support. You need to have courage til the last minute and not give up. We fall short just at the end. We need support to get alongside us…”
At Operation Mercy we were very happy that in the end, “taking the step” was going to mean something in the lives of women from this part of town:
“Even at the first school meeting (of the STEP presentation), I felt something there… I felt something good was going to happen…”
“Jena kenaqt me ardh te Juve – We are happy we came to you (at STEP-OPM).”
“This was so important to me… To come here was just a blessing. Your help made me much stronger… You are not here by accident.”