Pauline & Felistus

by Marsha Winsryg

Pauline & Felistus

I met Pauline in 2005 when I first  visited the Mama Bakhita Cheshire Home in Livingstone, Zambia, a few miles from Victoria Falls. She was a part of social group of mothers whose children attended the special needs school there.

Pauline raised her granddaughter Felistus since her daughter’s death when the child was a baby. In 1995, she was also the first person to bring her physically challenged four year old to the brand new Mama Bakhita Cheshire Home for free therapy and educational workshops. Felistus  came wrapped in a blanket and huddled in a fetal position, totally unresponsive. She was diagnosed to have cerebral palsy.

Felistus responded to the physical therapy, extra nutrition and social contact she received as the Mama Bakhita grew over the years. When I met her in 2005, she was the social star of the group, involved in many activities and delighting in her friends and teachers.

Felistus in 2005 with her handmade puppet

Pauline was part of the original Zambezi Doll Company initiated in 2010 and could be counted on to show up and do her part producing the handmade dolls. Though her sight was not great, with a pair of glasses she was able to stitch clothing and fashion bead jewelry.

Pauling making Zambezi Dolls in 2015

In 2018 she retired and continued to receive her salary as a pension. Felistus had aged out of the Mama Bakhita School by then and was quite content to live with her grandmother, shop at the nearby market, housekeep a bit and socialize in this neighborhood where she had grown up. My dedicated manager in Zambia, Sydney Mwamba, without whom non of this work could happen, visited Pauline and Felistus every month with food and comradery. He listened to Pauline’s needs as her health declined and took her to the hospital when necessary, which was more and more often.

Felisus at home

When Pauline died on June 6, we hired Bernadette Lungu, a woman living in the neighborhood with good references and well known in Libuyu. She has agreed to live with Felistus and her great aunt, Pauline’s sister, who is blind. This is a big adjustment for Felistus and Sydney will keep in touch with her to make sure things go well.

Felistus and Bernadette Lungu

All of the children who come through the Mama Bakhita Cheshire Home school are precious to us but Felistus is our poster child who came in 1995 so withdrawn and over the years opened up her wings like a butterfly. She has become a happy and important part of her community, and we pray we can keep her there.

If you are able, please make a sustaining monthly donation for any amount in her name at this website’s “Donate” button or through Bill Pay (Zelle) directly to our bank and save us the the PayPal fees. We are also setting up Venmo payments.

Thank you for your interest in these wonderful people so far from the world’s notice.

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