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Meet Nophreen: Zambezi farmer, doll maker, model mother

Nophreen is one of the Zambezi farmers, and was also one of the original group of doll makers. Her association with the Mama Bakhita began with the birth of her daughter, Banji.

The night of April 19, 1999, Nophreen went into labor, and was taken to the nearby village clinic. Around midnight, she gave birth to a stillborn baby. The fetus had already begun to decompose. An hour later, she felt more labor pains, and to everyone’s shock, a second baby was born. No one had known that Nophreen was carrying twins. Banji was tiny and weighed less than two pounds, and should have been placed in an incubator, but there was none available.

Nobody thought this child could possibly survive. The midwife, Sister Bernadette Banda, showed Nophreen how to wrap the baby and clean her, making sure she was always warm. She taught her how to feed her one drop of milk at a time and keep the room warm by setting braziers about.

Through Nophreen’s determination and devotion, the baby did survive. But when Banji was six months old, she was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, a result of her premature birth. The doctor told Nophreen and her husband that Banji would not thrive.

Nophreen did everything she could for Banji’s care and rehabilitation. It was clear that Banji understood what was going on around her, and eventually she was able to make herself understood verbally. She had a deep thirst for knowledge, and at age six she begged Nophreen to let her go to school. Nophreen, model mother and advocate for the physically disabled, worked tirelessly, breaking down barriers and making it possible for Banji to succeed in her primary and secondary education. She is still fearlessly fighting for her daughter and others; Banji is now in college, and plans to go to university to study law and defend the rights of others with disabilities.

We wish Nophreen and all of you great mothers a Happy Mother’s Day!

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