top of page

M'Pekala is a project run by a group of women in Sekute, a rural area very distant from Livingstone. Their goal is to produce their own sisal and use it and natural dyes to make handsome woven shoulder and hand bags. The name M’Pekala, which means "where we live", was chosen because these women are trying to improve the lives of their families and community in this remote green paradise.

The project is the brainchild of Sister Immaculata Mulyei, a Franciscan nun who once lived in the region. She has a warm connection with this group of women, and is well aware of the difficulty they face earning cash, being many hours away from the nearest town.

The families’ yearly income from agriculture is often only enough to send one child to school - usually a son. The extra income from M’Pekala is necessary to cover fees for their daughters' educations. They know that girls who don’t attend school are much more likely to marry early. Once married, education is impossible. Equally impossible, for women, is finding a job after the babies start coming. The cycle of poverty continues.

15 views0 comments

Updated: Mar 28

In 2005, when I came to the Mama Bakhita Cheshire Home for the first time, I brought materials to make simple puppets with the children. They enjoyed it so much that every year afterwards I brought varied art project materials with me.

In 2009 I brought quarts of good quality tempera paint, watercolor paper and decent brushes. I was excited by the keen enthusiasm of the children and by their work. Once I demonstrated the simple procedure, they needed no help, and clearly enjoyed the process. I continued to bring paint and markers, and a few years ago we began using local clay to explore form and play three dimensionally.

I developed a method of facilitating wheelchair bound children, so that art making was accessible to everyone at the school. The children with cerebral palsy especially found pleasure in painting and clay modeling because abstraction was the norm, and there was no judgement on the content or outcome of their piece. Their motivation to create was so powerful that they developed more and more ability to control their arms as the weeks progressed. I wished that I could afford to hire a year round art teacher for them because there were few other ways they could express themselves.

On my visit in January, the children and I painted or worked with clay almost every day. During one of the art sessions, we had a visit from Busiku Mpongo, a woman I met in 2017 when she was working as an aid at the Mama Bakhita. A couple of years later, the AACDP found a sponsor for her education at Lusaka University, where she earned a degree in physiotherapy. Her visit during the children’s clay session was wonderful in many ways. I had been working with Jonathan, a young man with cerebral palsy who has more difficulty controlling his arms and movements than others with CP. My efforts to help him grasp a brush were clumsy and ineffective, but Busiku was able to help him control his hand. It was remarkable to see him respond, and so gratifying to see her education aptly used in such a graceful and effective manner.

Here are some of the paintings the children created (click arrow on side of painting to scroll through)

42 views0 comments

The Zambezi Doll Company has been put on hold. The doll makers are the same women who are the farmers at the Zambezi farm, and we've decided to concentrate their energies there. While I was visiting Zambia, we worked on finishing up a selection of dolls that were partially made so I could bring them back to the U.S. to sell. Our workplace and office are no longer available to us, so we were working in temporary quarters at the Mama Bakhita.

On our first day at the Mama Bakhita, the heavens opened up with torrential rain, and the winds wailed. The porch which served as our temporary quarters was flooded, as well as the little kitchen. The ceiling leaked badly and the walls were so waterlogged that I worry they may one day crumble. Unfortunately, new construction in Zambia is often substandard.

When the rains finally stopped, we managed to literally sweep the water out of our workspace. By 1:00 we were organized and dry, and we had a productive and sociable afternoon.

43 views0 comments

News from Zambia

bottom of page