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The Mama Bakhita Center was developed by the Sisters of St. Francis in 1996 to address the widespread problem of ignoring or hiding children with disabilities in the local community. They began with fifteen children with different physical and mental disabilities. Today the Center has 147 registered children.

Their services include physiotherapy, special education, outreach programs, medical referrals, a nutritional program, life skills and adult education for families with physically challenged children. If necessary, children are taken to Lusaka for free medical services at the Italian hospital there.

They do all of this badly needed work on a shoestring budget.

Each day new families present themselves, many of whom must be turned away. The need for The Mama Bakhita Center’s services is ever present and they are always looking for ways to increase their level of support.

Next February, 2021 the AACDP is planning a service learning tour to the Mama Bakhita Center in Livingstone, Zambia. Right now, the country has opened up because virus cases are Their guest house can lodge up to 10 people. If you have always wanted to see Africa but did not know how to go about planning a trip, come with us! Experience Africa beyond tourism.

Whenever possible we will recommence the Italian Tours, perhaps in April or September, 2021, if permitted and safe to go. Send your email to with "Tours” in the subject line and we’ll keep you posted about any and all upcoming tours.

100% of the profit from the tours goes to supporting the Mama Bakhita Center and other projects connected to children with disabilities Send your email to with “Service Tour” in the subject line and we’ll keep you posted.

You can make a life-changing donation today at our "How You Can Help" page..

Sister Immaculata, from the Sisters of St. Francisin Livingstone, Zambia

Here are the stories of three children:

Maureen Musungu was born with a cleft palate. Because of this she was unable to nurse as an infant and was slowly starving. Fortunately, the mission hospital in the remote Kazugula district where her family lived referred them to the Mama Bakhita Center when Maureen was three months old. The Sisters were able to convince the family to allow the baby to be operated on at the Italian hospital in Lusaka. The operation was a success and the baby is able to eat and put on weight.

Julius Siamate is from Mukuni Village, a large traditional village near Livingstone where wood carvers have been working since the 1300s. Julius lost both of his parents to AIDS at 17 years old. He has struggled with severely clubbed feet all his life. Unable to wear shoes, this shy boy rarely attends school. The Mukuni community did not trust hospitals or the big city six hours away and discouraged him from going with Sr. Agnes of the Mama Bakhita Center. Nonetheless, his first foot was repaired and he is scheduled for the second operation next month. He has resumed his education at Mukuni Basic School.

George Chilwalo grew up being teased by his peers because one of his legs was shorter than the other.

George was assessed at the Mama Bakhita Center and taken to Lusaka where he was fitted for a raised shoe. This simple solution allowed George to play normally and he is back in school.

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You can go all the way up to the high hilltop village of Fiesole on the bus for one euro. One euro to sail out of town, up where the air smells like bay leaves and the city spreads out below, up to a small town of steep charming streets with names like via Francesco Poeti and via La Cipressa. The other side of the town overlooks valleys cultivated over the centuries with blue-grey olive orchards, black cypress,ochre and salmon colored villas and the crop patterns of fields. When the clouds are traveling they throw dark blue shifting shadows that make you catch your breath for their beauty.

Are you with me? Photos can’t reproduce the sense of unfolding spaces, softly receding hills and mountains and the loving care taken with the land over the years.

So, my friend Maria and I were on a mission to see a little known church called Fonte Lucente, which means Fountain of Light. I had trekked to this simple church twice over the years and tried to contact someone in charge. I had heard that the water flowed right in the chapel and that it was reputed to have healing properties. But it was always closed, open only at 10am on Sundays for services. On this Sunday, Maria and I intended to go to mass there. What better way to see a church than when it is doing what it does best.

From the bus stop to the church is a very steep descent along the side of a hill. Fifteen minutes later we stood in front of a plain building with a portico of three arches. The priest drove up as we entered. There, on the right just off of the central nave, was a small grotto carved from the rock of the hillside. Along the wall water slid into a small carved basin on the floor.

I collected some of this water, said to be sacred and with healing properties in my glass water bottle. Sadly, during the week following, I forgot that this was special water, and I drank it. The good part is that I had a sinus infection at the time, and it went away. Thank you, Fonte Lucente.

Twice a year I make a pilgrimage to Florence to drink in the centuries of beauty and to lead little tour groups to my favorite places. This is another way I raise money for the AACDP. If you care to join me I will be taking small groups of five in March and October 2016.

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The AACDP is the opposite of a large super-charity. I would say we are a small scale, hands on, no overhead, all-volunteer non profit that aims to support local charities already in place.

In 2002 I began to send money from our contributions and craft sales to the Mama Bakhita Cheshire Home for children with disabilities in Livingstone, Zambia.

Over the years I have tried to help local students without means find tuition and believe that education is the most effective way to increase a person’s chances of getting employment.

In 2010 we began the Zambezi Doll Company to provide steady income for the children at the Mama Bakhita whose mothers struggle to care for their families. on it all.

I try to keep tabs on it all. If a student is having difficulty, I find out why. If the doll makers need more supplies, or if someone’s child is perilously ill, I am told about it and respond.

On this small scale, my intention is to provide opportunities for economic development that fit the culture and people, most of whom I have met through the craft business.

We are all just humans struggling to survive on this planet. Your contribution on one side of the globe can make a difference on the other. Africans do so much with so little.

Please help us, if you can.

Many thanks.

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News from Zambia

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