About Marsha

Sunday at Victoria Falls, Zambia

In my 60 years I have been an artist and early-childhood educator but my transformation into a woman waging peace for Zambian children began when my two adult daughters and I traveled through Africa ten years ago.

Visiting countless marketplaces, we were deluged with requests from native craftspeople to carry their goods back to the United States for sale.

I brought a few items home, selling them here and there at flea markets or from my home.

But during these and other African journeys, more than just being impressed by the beauty of the landscape and fine handicrafts, I was also struck by the level of human need, especially among children, created by the cultural devastation that was a looming possibility in the wake of HIV/AIDS.

In Zambia one out of three people are HIV positive and everyone has lost family members. Most adults are caring for orphans as well as their own children in an economy that barely sustains a subsistence lifestyle.

I came up with the idea of selling Zambian crafts and returning those profits to a grass-roots Zambian-run social welfare organization in the same locality where the craftspeople lived.

After some research, I discovered the Mama Bakhita Cheshire Center in Livingstone, a facility for disabled children. This seemed like a nice economic loop, benefiting the nearby artisans by marketing their handmade crafts as well as the Mama Bakhita Home, which was greatly under funded.

Over the years the few hundred dollars I was able to send every few months has grown into a $500 monthly grant enabling them to expand their programs and increase enrollment.

I call this low-end philanthropy because I am not a wealthy woman, except in a world perspective, where we are all wealthy.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Dr. Doudou D. Faye December 4, 2012 at 12:41 am

Hello Marsha,

Very well put! This is how empowerment and sustainability take shape!

Laura A. Dillivan December 14, 2012 at 10:20 am

Hello Marsha,
I saw your post in the Africa NGO Network that we both belong to on LinkedIn. It lead me to take a look at your web site. I admire the work you’re doing and would be happy to connect with you on LinkedIn, but I’m not able to do so without your email address.

Our for-profit entity, GR8Lakes Essentials is developing business relationships in Zambia. As well, we are affiliated with the non-profit Koinonia and Spark foundations. There may come a time when an opportunity to work with you and your organization presents itself.

Please feel free to send me a connection request if you so desire.
Best Regard,
Laura A. Dillivan

Marsha Winsryg March 11, 2015 at 5:11 pm

Hi Laura, I really took a while to figure out how to find my comments, but anyway, I have sent you a request via LinkedIn. Thanks so much for commenting and perhaps our paths will cross one day.

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