Zambia disabled children

Young people at the Mama Bakhita Cheshire Home for children with disabilities can exercise their minds and muscles every week, instead of a few weeks a year.

For many years I brought Tempra paint in beautiful colors when I came to stay at the Cheshire home for a few weeks each winter. From the very beginning they enjoyed the process immensely, especially those who had cerebral palsy and were unable to master many of the skills required of the other students, because their muscles would not cooperate. But we devised a way for them to paint. A way where they could chose the colors they wanted, and manage to use their hands and arms to put the paint where they wanted it. After several years it became clear to me that this was a powerful motivating force for them to gain some control over their arms and hands. All of the youngsters enjoy the process because they can paint for their own pleasure. There is no right or wrong way and non-representaional art is admired as much as any other kind.

What if they could do this frequently?

This year we set out to find a local Zambian artist with teacher training to come every week and offer this option. We had two finalists, Lubinda Kingfisher and Mary Pensulo. Both were competent and gentle teachers. If I could’ve hired them both to work together, I would have done that. But in the end we chose Mary Pensulo because, although my “freestyle” approach was new to her and not exactly in line with government curriculum, she could see how much the children benefitted from an uncritical experience.

In her words: “ This is so much fun! They obviously are enjoying themslves.”


Thank you for Believing in Us

by Marsha Winsryg

We have put all of our time and energy into getting the Zambezi Doll on-line store up and running. When we ran into snags with the credit card payment company and marketing challenges, I didn’t know how we would be able to work these things out and continue to pay salaries and other expenses until sales could cover them. How would we get to the sought after “break even” point? More importantly, how could we stop now that so many people had worked for so long and achieved so much? How could we fail them now?

So I started a crowd-sourced fundraising campaign through, praying that many of our friends and well-wishers would contribute something, anything, and that this would add up to enough to sustain us until we could swim on our own.

It worked!! We have raised half of the money in a week!

We are so grateful at the out-pouring of contributions. It is a wonderful feeling to be supported by all of you in our efforts to create steady and meaningful work for these women who have worked hard to achieve skills and independence. It takes a village.

With humble thanks for your generosity and faith,




After eight years working on this project, the Zambezi doll makers of Livingstone, Zambia have established the Zambezi Doll Cooperative, their own independent, women-owned non profit designed to create income security for these women with disabled children. Please help us sustain our new business while we develop marketing strategies and build our clientele. Buy a doll or two, and send friends with children to this page or to the women’s website.

Many thanks.












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Meet the Zambezi Doll Company

by Marsha Winsryg

Zambezi handmade ethnic dolls cotton soft uniqueThese are the women of the God Given Gift Group. They are mothers and grandmothers of disabled children who attend the Mama Bakhita Cheshire Center in Livingstone, Zambia. In 2011 I spent three weeks working with them to develop a doll that could be made entirely by hand, and could be sold for enough money to make an economic difference in their lives. They have grown into a true cooperative, sharing the work and profits from the sales of their Zambezi dolls.
With money in their bank account they can now pay rent, clothe and feed their families and get basic medical care. Most importantly to them, they can now pay to send their other children to school. The Mama Bakhita School for the Disabled is free for low income children, but all other schools , including public schools, have tuitions and expenses. Education for their children is their most fervent desire.

African dolls of color

You will soon be able to buy these dolls directly from their own website!