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Zambian Girl Dreams of Becoming a DoctorLinda has wanted to be a doctor since she was five years old, which is when I met her. She grew up in Zambia during a time when HIV/AIDS was a silent predator about which no one spoke. A whole generation was lost because shame and self-blame insured that very few asked for help. They preferred to die. Hospitals were afraid to treat the sick and fear of contagion left them on their own to await death. Linda wants a top-level medical training to combat the stigma of this terrible disease and shed the light of compassion and knowledge into the dark areas of a community where every family has lost at least one family member to AIDS.
The AACDP is promoting a GoFundMe page to raise money for her education beginning with a SAT training course in Lusaka, the first step to qualifying for scholarships to the US and UK. Or you can donate right at this site with a note that the gift is towards Linda’s tuition.
 
https://www.gofundme.com/manage/a-dream-zambian-woman-doctor

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Zambezi Dolls Fly to LA

by Marsha Winsryg

 

Thirty-five Zambezi Dolls found new homes with thirty-five middle schoolers who attend LA Promise Charter School. This is a socially conscious public school that strives to “radically improve the future of LA communities by increasing educational equity and ultimately closing the opportunity gap.”

We are with you, LA Promise! May we all enjoy our uniqueness!

And we are thrilled that our multicultural, natural fiber dolls have traveled all the way from Zambia find a place in the lives of these children. 

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Zambezi Dolls Are Born

by Marsha Winsryg

Zambezi doll ethnic natural fiber

Zambezi Dolls were born when it became very clear that there are not enough dolls of color in the world. It is also true that we do not need more plastic polluting our environment, so these dolls needed to be made of natural materials. Add to these truths the need for meaningful work for economically challenged women everywhere, and you have reasons that Zambezi Dolls seemed like a very good idea.

Eight years ago I decided that a simple, handmade doll could be a valuable product that the mothers of children at the Mama Bakhita Home for disabled children might be able to produce. I hoped that in time these dolls might generate real income for the women who were determined enough to learn the craft.

But it was not at all easy. In a spirit of industry and cooperation, the doll makers have shown true perseverance. Gradually every detail has been studied and practiced and the quality of each stitch is evident. They are rightly proud of their achievements and sing a song called “Our Talent Goes Wherever We Go”.

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At first each woman was expected to make her own doll from beginning to end. This did not work well because everyone had a different level of skill in handwork. Some were able to make five well-made dolls in the time it took another to make one less well-made doll. Sister Agnes Daka, then director of the Mama Bakhita Cheshire School, solved the problem beautifully. She suggested they break down the doll making into steps from the cutting out of the body patterns all the way to the making of the clothing. Everyone was capable of doing several parts of the production and together they were able to create finished dolls.

Zambezi doll ethnic natural fiberZambezi doll ethnic natural fiber

The families whose children attend the Mama Bakhita Cheshire special education school and others who come to receive other services are among the poorest in the area, with minimal income and no government services available to them. They are able to come at all because the Mama Bakhita’s school and services are free and they offer transportation that collects the school children each day.

Imagine how happy the mothers and grandmothers are that this opportunity exists for their children. Until the Mama Bakhita came into being in 1996, there was very little for them to do. They stayed at home.The school and services at the Mama Bakhita Cheshire Home are a huge improvement in their  children’s lives. Still, the lack of work and the minimal pay scale for what menial tasks the women could find left them struggling to pay rent and feed their families. And having handicapped children made working that much harder.

Zambezi doll company

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betty Abah girls rights nigeria

Unprogressive societies hold women down, says Betty Abah, the Joan of Arc for Nigerian girls and women. Betty Abah is (and I quote from the Daily Telegraph Newspaper in Nigeria) ” an award-winning journalist, author, women’s rights activist and founder of CEE_HOPE, a non-profit child’s rights and development organization.” She is a personal hero of mine, having dedicated her life to improving the lives of women and girls.

With her books he has tried to bring gender inequality into the public consciousness in Nigeria: The Sound of Chains, Go Tell Our King, among others. In 2014 her children’s rights focused journalism won her the Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Journalism for “Child Friendly Reporting” and the list goes on and on.

“We must make child marriage history and this takes government’s sincere commitment and citizen’s action.” She talks the talk and walks the walk. Betty Abah wants to shed light onto some of our world’s darkest corners: the systematic disregard and mistreatment of girls and women.

Please look at her short documentary film on child marriage and the promotion of educating girls:

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:RUN.webm

 

betty abah girls' rights to education in Nigeria

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