|The lady herself|
Like all women in Zambia Donata didn’t escape the loss of children. Three of her children died including her son who died recently at the age of 26 leaving two small children behind. It was as Donata reached her fifties and her children were all grown up that she started to think about wanting to give back for the blessings she received by being taken in by those missionaries all those years before. She describes her life’s work as ‘one big thank you to God for looking after me.’
And that thank you became the Donata School for disabled children. The lot for blind, deaf and physically disabled children in Zambia is intensely sad and before Donata began her school none of these children in the area were being educated. This only compounds the hard lot they have in life and makes accessing medical care and other support all the more difficult.
Donata funded the school (you can see a video of their new building built by the UK charity Build International here), and continues to fund it, by walking from farm to farm begging on behalf of the children. She walks for two weeks at a time, sleeping on the road. When I stared at her, mouth open at this level of extraordinary tale, she said ‘Well, the Lord Jesus walked from place to place all his life and so can I’. Have you ever seen service like that?!
A few years into founding the school a particularly unexpected arrival appeared on Donata’s doorstep, a little boy. He was deaf and both his parents had died. His extended family, not knowing how to cope with him, left him with Donata who, though unable to fully provide for all her own needs, took him in. He is now a strapping sixteen year old, full of life and even better full of dignity. That is what Donata does best. The children performed a poem for us in sign language called ‘Disability is not inability’.Never have I tried so unsuccessfully not to cry in my life!! Donata’s unceasing commitment to these children and her constant instilling in them that they are valuable and precious no matter what challenges they face is truly fantastic.
Not satisfied with all the many children she has in Zambia Donata took me and Ben under her wing and pronounced us her English grandchildren! She loves the Queen and was seriously excited that I grew up in Windsor. If anyone deserves a letter from the Queen then my goodness this women does and I’m on a personal mission to get one for her. The school is very much on my heart and I’m mulling over what I can do best to help them. If this extraordinary story has tugged on your heartstrings then do check out the Donata school website or drop me a line.