Seven years ago Sydney wrote to me about getting help with an education in business. He was able to earn his tuition gathering and shipping crafts from artisans in Lusaka to me here in the US. At this point he has earned several diplomas and is able to manage affairs of the AACDP in Zambia. I could not operate without him, and I could not have found a better, smarter or kinder man. In an email to me he said:

“While in South Africa working to improve the plight of the disabled there, I visited some companies that deal in prosthetics because I have always wanted one but finance was an issue. I thought I should ask Marsha to help me get it through some form of fundraising. It will help me in so many ways, especially employment. Most people think I cannot do certain things with one arm.”

The cost is about $1800.

Please consider what kind of gift this is. Donate here or send a check for any amount to:

AACDP ,PO Box 3051, West Tisbury, MA (memo: Sydney)

Many thanks to the many kind people in the world.

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The Mama Bakhita Cheshire Home in Livingstone, Zambia, is part of a group of 11 centers for the care of disabled children named after Leonard Cheshire, an Englishman who began these organizations in India in 1955. Each center in Zambia seems to be organized differently. Some are actual living situations others are referral centers. All are run by local Zambian Franciscan Sisters trained for this work by the Franciscan order. They all provide physiotherapy, medical attention and education according to the child’s disability.

The Mama Bakhita Center, named after one of the very few black Catholic saints, opened in 1990 with five children in a small house. These Sisters went into the community and sought out families with handicapped children who were kept out of sight. They convinced these five families to bring their children to them for physiotherapy, medical referral, and limited education.

Now the facility has grown to include a small school with an excellent trained teacher, Evelyn Kazoka,a small hall for large group activities, like the puppet-making workshop I bring when I come, and a guesthouse to help with their finances.

In the last two months fourteen children were taken to Lusaka to receive medical attention and operations at the Italian Hospital. People come from great distances in hopes that theycan avail themselves of state-of-the-art physical therapy room and to find hope for their children.

They also have an extensive outreach program providing help for disabled children who live too far from the center to attend. Whatever needs the children have are met, including food and clothing and sometimes grants for small business start-ups for the mother.

What percentage of the disabled population these children represent, I don’t know. But these lucky ones, instead of being a source of shame for their families, exude confidence and joie de vivre as a result of their participation in the Mama Bakhita community. Before the Mama Bakhita, these children were kept hidden, now they shine. This alone is enough to keep me going.

At our first World Market Monday sale we ended with a fundraising event for special guest Sr. Immaculata Mulyei who described her women’s income initiative in Secute, Zambia. She named it “Mpekala” meaning “Where We Live” in the local language, Lozi. In gaining the means to produce income, the women are able to send their children to school. This is especially important for girls who often stand second in line to their brothers when a family can only afford to send one child.

Last year Sr. Immaculata spent several weekends walking from village to village assessing the needs of the women and then considering what endeavor might be best suited to those groups that showed serious interest.

Here in the US we were able to raise money for a pilot training program. Two professional basket makers from a nearby village were hired to teach the women how to make the baskets with prepared sisal. Step two was to plant sisal, a desert plant requiring very little water, to eventually provide the raw materials.

Sr. Immaculata brought with her from Zambia 16 finished bags to sell at our market and a power point presentation to tell the story. At the end of the presentation, people crowded to her table and bought all but three of the bags which is very good news for the women in Secute and will motivate them to further improve the details of the bags.

Because this is a sustainable project and can weather the vagaries of climate change, we are looking to find funds to start an eager second group. If you would like to contribute to growing this project, these women can gradually improve the quality of life in their home and community and educate their girls, reducing the need for early marriages.

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