Without Anke van Keulen, a trainer from the Netherlands and Ilse Sapkota a teacher based in Nepal, this exciting project wouldn’t have happened.

Ilse was trained in using the Persona Doll approach while on a visit to Holland.

To ensure that the children bonded with the dolls, appropriate ones were ordered.

After detailed planning, Anke arrived in Nepal.

She and Ilse told Persona Doll stories to children in two schools and ran workshops for the teachers from four schools. They also produced a reader explaining the Persona Doll approach and included examples to encourage them to create their own stories.


One of the stories was about Sarita and was told to a class of 3-4 year old children and to two classes of 5-6 year olds.


Sarita is six years old and she lives in Dhading Bensi with her mother, her three year old brother Indra and their grandparents. Their father works in Dubai and Sarita misses him. She feels sad and sometimes lonely too.


The children were asked questions like:

Whose father also works abroad?

Are you sad sometimes?

How can we help Sarita feel less sad?

Specific questions like these encourage children to empathise, to recognise their own emotions, to comfort and to solve the doll’s problems.

One of the youngest children suggested, ‘Sarita could go outside to play with her friends then she will be less sad’.


Many fathers are working abroad – half of the children raised their hands and were able to identify with the Sarita’s feelings. This issue is not openly spoken about, and it evoked lots of emotions.


In the beginning the children were shy, not just because it was the first time that the doll visited them, but also because they hadn’t met Anke and Ilse before.


At the second school in the village outside Dhading Bensi Anke and Ilse told stories around the dolls Gadesh and Purnima to children in five classrooms.

Purnima is six years old and her brother Gadesh is four. They live in a small village near Dhading Bensi. They have a buffalo and two goats.


Not only the children, but also many teachers (including the male teachers) were involved and positive. Ilse was a frequent visitor.


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