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Mpekala: Improving Where We Live

Updated: Sep 28, 2020

I met Sr. Immaculata Mulyei in 2002, on my first visit to Livingstone, Zambia to visit the Mama Bakhita Cheshire Home. She is a small, trim and thoughtful person in her mid-seventies now, highly respected in the community, with a dry sense of humor and an abiding concern for rural women with their struggles. A modest and determined woman, she quietly searches for ways to accomplish her considerable goals: to help small groups of rural women to sustain themselves by adapting their economic endeavors to the changing environment.

Mpekala is her name for this project, meaning “where I live”. In the past she has raised money to supply cows, goats and chickens to ten groups of these women living in the remote Sekute area outside of Livingstone. But changing weather patterns bringing drought have made watering their animals difficult.

Sisal can be easily grown with little water, so a new project is being put forward: the making of woven sisal bags using natural dyes. The goal is to produce their own sisal and to learn how to make handsome shoulder and hand bags of varying sizes.

The bags will then be promoted and sold as fair trade goods of the best order. I myself will offer them for sale in my internet store as well as at my craft sales.

What is needed to begin is $500 dollars of start up money to buy the first sisal, since it will take a season to grow their own, and to hire a teacher from the Zimba tribe who is skilled in this art.

This project is all about sustainability and adaptation. Is there a generous person out there have the where-with-all to take on the privilege of helping this woman start her program?

Thank you.

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