Brave Family

by Marsha Winsryg

supporting his siblings at 24At twenty-four years old, Zimeh Benjamin finds himself the head of his family, struggling to maintain and educate himself and his three siblings. They lost both parents, his mother only six months ago, when he had just completed the second of four years at the University for Development Studies in Navrongo, Ghana. The family had never had much money but got by on what could be earned fixing small appliances.
Somehow Zimeh found the AACDP and was able to show proof of his difficulty as well as evidence of impressive school results for himself, his 14 year-old sister, Emelia and 18 year-old brother, Evans. Bit by bit I received pictures of their living situation and descriptions of the complicated parceling out of the little money thay can scrape together from odd jobs and credit from a kind store owner. With support from the AACDP Zimeh has been able to stay in school. His brother Evans will wait until Zimeh graduates to start training as a teacher. Sixteen year-old Emmanuel prefers repairing appliances to studying in school, but Emilia is a brilliant student who deserves to continue her education.
Brilliant student, orphaned and unable to afford school
Zimeh writes to me about his 16 year old sister:
“Emelia, she is very good and does not joke with her books. Everybody in her school is aware of her because of her performance. She has represented her school for a quiz competition on several occations and has come out with either first or second in position. Sometimes I become very sad when she tell me she need some books that I cannot afford.”

Their story continues.


Zambian mother and child

Zambian mother and child

The Mama Bakhita Center started in 1996 as a home with fifteen children with different physical and mental disabilities. Today the Center has 147 registered children.

Their services include physiotherapy, special education, outreach programs, medical referrals, a nutritional program, life skills and adult education in the care of these children. Every week children are taken to Lusaka for free medical services at the Italian hospital there.

They do all of this badly needed work on a shoestring budget.

Each day new cases present themselves, many of whom must be turned away. The need for The Mama Bakhita Center’s services is ever present and they are always looking for ways to increase their level of support.

Next March, 2014, the AACDP is planning a service learning tour to the Mama Bakhita Center in Livingstone, Zambia. If you have always wanted to see Africa but did not know how to go about planning a trip, come with us! Experience Africa beyond tourism.

100% of the profit from the tour will go to supporting the Mama Bakhita  Center. Their guest house can lodge up to 10 people. Send your email to with “Service Tour” in the subject line and we’ll keep you posted.

Or you can make a life-changing donation today.

Here are the stories of three  children:

mama bakhita center child

Maureen Musungu

Maureen Musungu was born with a cleft palate. Because of this she was unable to nurse as an infant and was slowly starving. Fortunately, the mission hospital in the remote Kazugula district where her family lived referred them to the Mama Bakhita Center when Maureen was three months old. The Sisters were able to convince the family to allow the baby to be operated on at the Italian hospital in Lusaka. The operation was a success and the baby is able to eat and put on weight.

zambian disabled=

Julius Siamate is from Mukuni Village, a large traditional village near Livingstone where wood carvers have been working since the 1300s. Julius lost both of his parents to AIDS at 17 years old. He has struggled with severely clubbed feet all his life. Unable to wear shoes, this shy boy rarely attends school. The Mukuni community did not trust hospitals or the big city six hours away and discouraged him from going with Sr. Agnes of the Mama Bakhita Center. Nonetheless, his first foot was repaired and he is scheduled for the second operation next month. He has resumed his education at Mukuni Basic School.

zambian disabled=

George Chilwalo grew up being teased by his peers because one of his legs was shorter than the other.

George was assessed at the Mama Bakhita Center and taken to Lusaka where he was fitted for a raised

shoe. This simple solution allowed George to play normally and he is back in school.


A Home for Holliness Moomba

by Marsha Winsryg

Zambian woman works for a home

Holliness in front of hand made cement blocks

Holliness lost 4 family members last January when a drunk driver crashed into the house they were renting in Livingstone, Zambia. No charges were ever filed against the driver, who, no doubt, paid his way out of certain conviction.

Her late mother, a charcoal vendor, had managed to save enough money to buy a small plot of land outside of town. So Holliness and her sisters moved out to the land, and with $500 from the AACDP built a temporary house, seen in the back of the photo. Holliness continued to work as a charcoal vendor, as her mother before her, enabling two of her sisters to continue in school. And now, they are fabricating cement bricks to built a permanent house.

What spirit in the face of such terrible adversity.


Zambian women working for Zambian women and children

Franciscan Sisters Dedicate to Education, Healing and Empowerment

The African Artists Community Development Project, my small non-profit, has been sending money to the Mama Bakhita Center for Disabled Children for nine years and I have visited them four times. Each time I come away with a sense of what it means to serve your community as a way of life.

“A Franciscan Sister is committed to evangelising God’s people through education,healing and empowering. She serves the vulnerable, aware especially of the needs of women and girls.”

The Sisters I have met through the years, beginning with the late and beloved Sister Michael Lungu, have inspired me with their calm and tenacious devotion to the neediest people. At the Mama Bakhita Center live four of these women. Sister Agnes is the head and oversees the operation of the Center, with it’s school and theraputic programs. Sister Francesca is a trained physiotherapist and works with the children there. Sister Gwendolyn spends each day at the AIDS clinic run by the larger group, the Little Sisters of Saint Francis. And Sister Bernadette keeps the books for them.

Other Sisters in the same area run a day care center, a school lunch program for the highschool, a sex workers support group that assists with vocational training  and medical attention for those who want it. These are Zambian women, not missionaries from another country, who quietly work to support their world.

So we work to support them.