Water Is Life

by Marsha Winsryg

The people of Jack Mwanapapa in front of their new well and cistern

I saw the people of the village of Jack Mwanapapa watch the dry season stretch into months without rain, and the Nansazu river, their source of water, slowly dwindle and then disappear, along with their livelihood. Every crop withered and the old fruit orchards began to die. People went into the bush to forage for wild food which also was diminished. Children stopped going to school because there was no money from the sale of their vegetables to pay school fees.

Sydney Mwamba, The AACDP’s general manager who was born in this community, wrote to say that the situation had become a crisis. He sent pictures of a riverbed that was completely dry, of the crops dead in the fields and the haggard faces of people facing an unsure future.

What do you do when a problem is so large that you cannot find a solution? These days, I start a go fund me campaign and that’s what Sydney and I did.We reached out to a world that we hoped cared. Donations started to come in and then one of the donors said that she had access to a family trust and was interested in helping people in developing countries get access to water. A few weeks later a well and a pump were installed. Then it turned out pump and well were not big enough for the whole village. So we went back and campaigned some more to raise money for a second larger system. After nine long months the village of Jack Mwanapapa finally had a water system that was not dependent on the rain fall. 

Sydney described the women gathering at the new well to collect water for the first time. There was silence as one of the women placed a bucket under a spigot and turned it on. Water began to trickle slowly, then faster and then with force as it filled her bucket. There was another moment of silence and then she began to laugh. Another women joined her until all of them were laughing with unrestrained joy.

..And barren grasslands Flourish richly.”Isaiah 35:5 -7


Gavin paints everyday

Every year I go to Zambia and stay at the Mama Bakhita Home for children with disabilities. For three weeks I set up free-style, non-representational painting for all ages. But the children who really benefit the most are five with severe cerebral palsy. They can neither walk, nor talk, nor write. There is so little opportunity for them to engage in an activity without fear of failure.

I have developed a way for them to paint and their delight is palpable. The paintings are full of color and form and each work encourages more persistence and muscle control. If they were able to make art three times a week, who knows how much control they would gain over their arms and hands, which is a side benefit of the profound pleasure they experience. So, I’m raising money to make this valuable activity available to all of the children at the special needs school all year.

You can easily donate at our website where you will find a donate button on the top right hand side bar of every page. Your contribution, large or small will make an impact, whether you donate $5 or $100. Every little bit helps. Bless you for your support.

The AACDP is a 501c3 non-profit organization that provides fair trade markets for African artisans, educational grants for young people who have shown motivation and need, development of African women’s income projects and assistance to the Mama Bakhita Cheshire Center in Livingstone, Zambia, that cares for disabled children. We are in the process of consolidating our many programs and are setting up sponsorship programs for our students with people who want to support a young student directly. You can learn about these and other kinds of sponsorships at our website:


Zambezi doll company home

Piece #4  A Place of Our Own

The doll makers have been working in the hydrotherapy room at the Mama Bakhita Cheshire Home, a facility that was financed by an Irish organization called Touch Ireland. It was built five years ago and, along with the physiotherapy room, has been used hardly at all due to Zambian bureaucratic regulations and lack of maintenance.

The Mama Bakhita has supported our efforts to create a doll business for these women, some of whom have or had disabled children at the the school here. Sr. Agnes supervised them in the first years after I designed the simple dolls and began training the women to make them. It was her idea that the women share the different tasks in making a doll, with each woman doing the part she was best suited for and all sharing equally in the profits. This has worked well over the years since 2010, when we began, causing the women to form a tightly knit group that supports each other.

I come every winter to work on the quality of the dolls to improve their marketability. For many years, I have been the main customer, buying a large quantity of dolls, at least 100, twice a year. This gave them a surge of cash twice a year but not the consistent income they need to support their minimal requirements. Often this means that I send money to sustain them, because I want them to keep at it. I have always had faith that one day our project would be a success. And, surprisingly to me, they continue to believe this too.

Although the hydrotherapy room leaves much to be desired as a workspace, the rent is free, so we have been very grateful for that. In return, the women volunteer to cook lunch for the school children three days a week.

In the back of my mind has been the desire to rent a small house that will serve as a workspace where they can work comfortably, safely store their valuable doll supplies and cook their lunch inside instead of outside on a brazier.

One day Sydney and I ran into A friend in the street in town. “Proby is in real estate now” Sydney mentioned to me as we approached and I asked if he knew of any houses to rent in our neighborhood. Well, yes, there was a house around the corner from the Mama Bakhita.

We walked through the gates of the property, shaded by mango trees, and into a very substantial cement house built in the Indian style, very large central space with two open areas and two long galleries on each side for the five bedrooms and four bathrooms and a kitchen. There was a pantry for storage, closets in every room and the rent was a very reasonable $300 a month.

The doll makers were overjoyed. This was clearly a sign that things were starting to happen. On Friday we signed a lease. On Saturday we all cleaned the house. Not having furniture was a problem, but Sydney and Chembo found a few tables and chairs and so the doll makers went to their new workshop on Monday. That same morning that I left for the States.

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Sydney Goes for a Degree

by Marsha Winsryg

AACDP show - 065In 2007, Sydney Mwamba wrote and asked me to sponsor him in a business diploma program. His aunt makes crafts for me, so I asked her if Sydney was a good bet. She replied enthusiastically “Sydney is the hardest working young man and best student in our village.” So began an association that has grown into a kind of partnership.

Sydney checks out and sends the crafts, oversees quality control, manages crises and keeps me generally informed about our people and projects in Lusaka and Livingstone. He has used his training and exceptional people skills working with the AACDP.  Now he is going to University to get that final degree that says you are serious about your field. It isn’t easy to get $5000 a year together for most Zambians, 80% of whom are way below the poverty line. Scholarships are rare and limited. But we are putting our eggs in this Indiegogo basket and hope for the best. Please give Sydney a chance.

With this degree he will be qualified to start up a craft export business in Livingstone, Zambia in collaboration with the AACDP. We hope to train and hire handicapped people as well as others, perhaps incorporating a worker-owned agenda. Employment is one of Zambia’s greatest needs, and hiring the disabled is even rarer. Sydney is smart, hardworking and eminently suited for this task.