Flying Mission Zambia recently helped a UK family to make its dreams come true… and probably those of some needy children in Zambia.
The Stansfield family (Duncan, Susan, Nicholas and Megan) expressed appreciation for the organisation and have kindly shared their story with us here:
Do you find that some years are more significant than others? The year 2016 has brought our Silver Wedding Anniversary (25 years of very happy marriage), my wife celebrated a significant birthday beginning with a five (but don’t tell her I told you that) and we became mortgage free (now that is worth celebrating !!). So what better time than this to fulfil a promise that we made to each other back in 1996 when we first visited the amazing African continent and enjoyed a brilliant holiday in Kenya. We agreed then that if God ever blessed us with children we would return one day and give them a similar experience. So that’s how we recently enjoyed another brilliant holiday in Kenya.
Very nice, but what has this to do with Flying Mission Zambia, you may ask. Well, this time we went a little further and fulfilled an even longer-held dream to visit The Falconer Children’s Home in Kabulamema in North West Zambia with whom our families have been connected for over 50 years.
It was a bigger geographical diversion than we thought. The very different culture we found in Zambia took some getting used to but Nina, the FMZ guest house manager, and Jonathan, the pilot, both helped us orientate to the Zambian ways.
Thanks to the generosity of work colleagues, families and friends – who have all been amazing with the support they have given us – we were able to hand over 50 kilos of gifts for the 80 or so children who live at the orphanage. Jonathan squeezed them all into the little Cessna along with us! What a celebration it was when the gifts were handed out – happy, smiling, excited faces all round.
We were also able to hand over the £600 that our daughter, Megan, raised by completing a sponsored 5k colour run.
There is so much that I could say about our trip – the excitement of it, seeing the joy in the faces of the children and the workers/helpers at the home despite their circumstances, experiencing the sights and sounds of this beautiful continent, the feeling that comes from achieving something that my family and I have wanted to do for so long whilst wondering whether we ever would, watching two teenage children “get it” when we talked about people managing without all the latest gadgets and gismos and just enjoying the simple pleasures of blowing bubbles and, of course, the emotion of realising that all of this was started by one woman who dared to believe that she could do it. It is really Lilias Falconer and the God she served who should be recognised here.
The story of Lilias Falconer, born 15th July 1915 in Manchester.
At the age of 15 Lilias was telling her family of the call on her life to go to Africa “to look after babies and children”. In order to fulfil her vision Miss Falconer applied to Medical agencies for the opportunity to train as a nurse. At first all of her applications were refused. When, in 1939, World War 2 came, she was accepted into nursing, trained by the Salvation Army, and after a course in tropical medicine sailed for Africa. There she saw the plight of little babies left to die when their mothers died in childbirth. After agreeing to care for one such child, five more were quickly brought to her and with her six babies Lilias went further into the bush where she established her Children’s Home and Orphanage in the small village of Kabulamema in 1947. Miss Falconer, ‘Mama’ to her family, died on 6th June 1998. She only came back to the UK once in the years that she lived at Kabulamema. During those years she saved over 600 babies, that’s an average of one a month for fifty years. Today a verse from the Bible is still on the welcome sign in front of the Home –
‘Who so shall receive one such little child in My name, receives Me’.
No child was ever refused admission to the Home, and although many arrived sick, undernourished and sometimes on the verge of death, Miss Falconer’s nursing skills saw many of them reared to adulthood.
Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, Zambia’s first president awarded Miss Falconer ‘The Order of Distinguished Service’ in his Honours List in 1969 and in 1984 Queen Elizabeth II granted her the MBE which was presented to her at Kabulamema by the British High Commissioner for Zambia. Lilias had refused to come back to the UK to receive it, saying that if they wanted her to have it they better bring it to her – what a lady !!
It was Miss Falconer’s wish that her work would be carried on by her children and the success story of the Home is that some of the children stayed so that, when ‘Mama’ was ‘called to her rest’, they were trained, willing, able and ready to continue the running of the Home.
Today the general administration of the Home is carried out by Simon Samutala who came to the Home as a baby just two days old. Now in his sixties he oversees the needs of an ever increasing family. Miriam Mulyata came at seven days old. After completing her education and two years nursing training, she is now in charge of the family’s welfare and, with her staff of 25, cares for around 80 children. So the work that Miss Falconer began in 1947 is today being continued just as she hoped. During a visit to the Home in 1999 by Professor Nkuma Luo, the then Minister of Health in the Zambian Government, said “This Home is a unique place”.
If you would like to know more about this amazing lady and the place she created visit www.thefalconertrust.org where you can also obtain a copy of the book that tells the full story or a CD of the children singing, or contact us dsnm.stansfield [at] bournelea.freeserve.co.uk.