Wearing a traditional white coat and a surgical mask, “Doctor” Suelen da Silva uses a stethoscope to listen to her patient — a black doll that she is healing at her home on a hillside near Rio de Janeiro. Da Silva does not have a medical degree, of course, but the 62-year-old Brazilian certainly has ingenuity and spark. After losing her job as a housekeeper in April at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, she has transformed her hobby into a way to earn a bit of money during hard times. Da Silva, a small woman with a big personality, has created her “lifelike” hospital for dolls in a poor area of Niteroi, which overlooks Guanabara Bay. If frontline health care workers are the superheroes of the fight against Covid-19, Da Silva is perhaps a worthy sidekick, helping children endure the crisis by healing their ailing toys. The black woman, who wears glasses with thick frames, regularly updates her “clients” with pictures of their recovering dolls via WhatsApp — and a medical chart. The patients at her hospital rest in tiny white beds illuminated with mini multicolored lights. “I give them updates day after day. The children act like parents whose babies are hospitalized,” she tells AFP. “One day, a five-year-old girl was in tears as she left me her doll, and said, ‘Make sure she doesn’t suffer too much, don’t give her too many needle jabs!'” she recalls. Perola is the shabby doll she is currently treating, her legs bent at odd angles. She inserts a thin IV to her wrist with adhesive tape. Secret formula Da Silva started fixing broken dolls when her daughters were little girls — today, they are 35 and 22. “I raised them as a single mother and I never had money to buy them dolls. So I repaired the ones I found in the trash,” she explains, adding she also donated refurbished toys to community groups. “But when I lost my job, this became my new job.” Da Silva’s eldest daughter Lydiane helped get the word out about the hospital via Facebook. “When she told me there had been more than 3,000 views, it scared me a little bit,” she said.