Aid for Dependents
Felistus and Pauline
Pauline raised her granddaughter Felistus since her daughter’s death when the child was a baby. In 1995, she was also the first person to bring her physically challenged four year old to the brand new Mama Bakhita Cheshire Home for free therapy and educational workshops. Felistus came wrapped in a blanket and huddled in a fetal position, totally unresponsive. She was diagnosed to have cerebral palsy.
Felistus responded to physical therapy, extra nutrition and social contact she received as the Mama Bakhita as she grew over the years. When I met her in 2005, she was the social star of the group, involved in many activities and delighting in her friends and teachers.
Pauline making dolls in 2015
As part of the original Zambezi Doll Company initiated in 2010 Pauline could be counted on to show up and do her part producing the handmade dolls. Though her sight was not great, with a pair of glasses she was able to stitch clothing and fashion bead jewelry.
In 2018 she retired and continued to receive her salary as a pension. Felistus had aged out of the Mama Bakhita School by then and was quite content to live with her grandmother, shop at the nearby market, housekeep a bit, go to church and socialize in this neighborhood where she had grown up. My dedicated manager in Zambia, Sydney Mwamba, without whom non of this work could happen, visited Pauline and Felistus every month with food and comradery. He listened to Pauline’s needs as her health declined and took her to the hospital when necessary, which was more and more often.
When Pauline died on June 6, we hired Bernadette Lungu, a woman living in the neighborhood with good references and well known in Libuyu. She agreed to live with Felistus and her great aunt, Pauline's sister, who is blind. This is a big adjustment for Felistus and Sydney Mwamba, our Zambian general manager in Livingstone, keeps in touch with her to make sure things are going well.
Felistus and her caretaker, Bernadette Lungu
All of the children who come through the Mama Bakhita Cheshire Home school are precious to us but Felistus is our poster child who came in 1995 withdrawn and unreachable. Over the years she has opened up her wings like a butterfly. She has become We are so grateful to have found monthly support for Felistus to continue to be a happy and important part of her community.
This is the first in a series of Aid for Dependents stories