AFRICAN ARTISTS COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT PROJECT INC via Crowdrise
December 14, 2011
Jack Mwanapapa village, outside of Livingstone in southern Zambia, is one of the most beautiful places I have seen in Africa. Idyllic, with neat, traditional houses loosely clustered around a few huge Banyan trees, it is surrounded by little gardens growing vegetables, citrus and bananas. A good-sized river bounds one side and it is there that the clothes are washed and children swim. It was there also that Sydney Mwamba lost his left arm to a crocodile sixteen years ago, when he was eleven.
In 2005 I received a request via email from a young Zambian man for help with educational expenses. I wrote to his aunt, Peggy Mwamba, one of the craftswomen at the Kabwata Cultural Center in Lusaka, asking her assessment of her nephew, Sydney Mwamba, and she responded that despite having only one arm, he was one of the most reliable and hardworking young men from her village.
So I asked him to collect carved animals and baskets to ship to me, and in return I would try to cover his tuition to business school with their sales. This has become my standard business model for assisting people who request help for education. I like the sustainability of it. The student works toward the tuition and I cover my costs, eventually, with the sale of the crafts.
Over the years, Sydney has continued to take business courses and assist me in my work in Lusaka. He has tutored a young woman who was forced to quit school in 6th grade to help her catch up to grade level. He visits families of crafts people with emergencies and assesses what they need to get back on their feet- garden supplies, a wheelchair, a month's rent, medicine. He has bought a used copy machine, installed in one of the schools he attended and uses the proceeds to pay rent for himself and his brother, who he is sending to business school.
Now Sydney is the man on the ground for the African Artists Community Development Project. To quote Sydney: "An artificial arm will help me in so many ways, especially employment. Most people think I cannot do certain things with one arm."