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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, March 18, 2006

Hawai'i dolls work wonders in Iraq

This week saw the United States launch the largest bombing effort in Iraq since 2003.

Amid the increasing violence, clearly more must be done to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people.

One such project evolved from an idea from Honolulu's Nainoa Hoe, a 27-year-old Army 1st lieutenant platoon leader who was killed in Mosul, Iraq, in January 2005.

Hoe's idea was to start a project aimed at bringing joy to the children of Iraq by giving them a handmade rag doll.

Sadly, he didn't live long enough to see his wish come true. But it did.

His fellow soldiers made sure that the dolls, crafted by the students at St. Andrew's Priory, were distributed to Iraqi children.

Command Sgt. Major Hector Davila was in Hawai'i this week to let the Priory students know the dolls were well received.

"Every time I go out on patrol I carry a big bag of dolls with me," Davila said. "I tell the children that the dolls come from Hawai'i. They don't know where Hawai'i is, but they're happy to get the dolls."

There have been similar projects. But there's something about a simple ragdoll that becomes a powerful and transforming symbol of life and comfort in a time of war. It's even more special when given from the heart in the spirit of aloha. And in that sense, Hoe's spirit and his ideals will endure.