It’s difficult to find hijab-wearing dolls, so when one woman discovered a package of 25 handmade hijabi figures on her porch, she couldn’t help but feel a sense of awe at a stranger’s act of kindness.
“I noticed that dolls wearing hijabs seem hard to find, so I made 25 simple ones,” they wrote. “Not being part of the Muslim community myself, I’m not sure who to give them to, but I thought you might.”
“Thank you for all you do, and for being the wonderful person you are,” the message concluded.
Based on the personal nature of the note, which had Hasan’s name written inside, it’s clear the anonymous stranger knows Hasan.
In an interview with CBC News, Hasan described the handcrafted dolls, saying the creator “put in the effort to make the hair and the hijab goes on top.”
Touched by the stranger’s gesture, the mum took to social media to reveal what the dolls meant to her. “Between being told by strangers to ‘go back to my effing country’ and ‘eff you, terrorist,’ this warmed my heart and reminded me that there are always more good people out there than the other kind,” she wrote.
And while it heartened Hasan to finally see her Muslim community represented in dolls, she also acknowledged the deeper meaning behind the stranger’s act.
For someone to recognise me, my religion, and to give us agency herein. I felt acknowledged. And accepted. And welcomed.
“For someone to recognise me, my religion, and to give us agency herein. I felt acknowledged. And accepted. And welcomed,” she wrote. “When being ourselves — a seemingly simple idea — seems like the toughest thing to accomplish, gestures like this reach out to us and provide the strength we need to carry on.”
On Facebook, many people were just as touched by the stranger’s kind gesture.
And while many have expressed interest in owning a hijabi doll for their own kids, Hasan says she’ll likely donate them to a classroom or library where they can give the Muslim community more visibility.
“I’d like for them to reach a lot of kids,” she told CBC News. “Even if a lot of kids can’t play with it, as long as they can see it in a public sphere — where they can see a doll representing them, something they can identify with. That’s the plan.”
I'd like for them to reach a lot of kids... Even if a lot of kids can't play with it, as long as they can see it in a public sphere — where they can see a doll representing them.
Diversity in toys is still lacking, which is why some people have resorted to creating their own. For instance, mum-of-five Queen Cee created her own line of dolls for children of colour.
″[My daughter] was about 5 at the time and I wanted to make sure that we could have conversations about diversity and culture,” Cee told HuffPost Canada in March.
“I was basically led to customise because as much as people will say, ‘Oh there’s black dolls here in Canada, you just have to go to the stores’ — well, there’s not. There’s maybe one out of a slew of other dolls that are not black or reflective of someone of ethnicity.”
In recent years, the toy industry has made moves to be more inclusive, introducing new Barbie and Ken dolls with a variety of body types, skin tones and hairstyles, as well as a Lego mini-fig in a wheelchair. However, there is still more work to be done before toys can be truly called diverse.
This story originally appeared on the Canadian edition of HuffPost.