North Norfolk's Rosa devoted to Zambia
2009: Ninety-one year old Rosa Kerslake from Sheringham, North Norfolk collects thousands of baby items every year to send to a Christian orphanage in Zambia.
Annette Copeman reports
Despite having a worrying heart murmur and needing regular top-ups of oxygen, Rosa collects thousands of items of children’s clothing each year for the Kambulamema Children’s Home and Orphanage in Zambia.
Rosa's house is piled high with carefully folded cot blankets and hundreds of baby-gros. The clothes are collected and transported to Thetford on the first leg of their journey to Zambia.
Rosa knows many of the children these gifts have helped as friends – they send letters of thanks and photographs. Instead of displaying pictures on the wall, Rosa has huge notice boards, covered with the faces of smiling children and adults – Rosa can tell you a name and story about each one of them!
Rosa is a member of the Salvation Army in Sheringham. Until quite recently, Rosa rode her bicycle on a regular basis with large parcels to be posted to far away places. Well, Rosa’s old bike is now in Zambia! She has a photograph of a young man riding it. Saturday is ‘Bike Day’ at the Kabulamema home and the children take bikes and scooters to the local play area and really enjoy themselves. Donated bicycles are renovated by people in Romford, and then sent to Zambia.
Life is hard in the NW Province of Zambia. One young mother of twins went to the river to bathe them and herself. First she washed her two six-month-old babies and carefully laid them on the riverbank whilst she had her bath. She was taken by a crocodile! Her two boys are now cared for in the orphanage; clothed and fed with things that Rosa and others like her donate.
I am reminded that Rosa is not fit, as she inhales oxygen from the large oxygen cylinders next to her chair. And yet until 2008, Rosa sent three consignments of clothes a year. “I’ve not been able to send anything since April; I am supposed to take things easy now I need oxygen!”
Toys are discouraged because Zambian children enjoy playing together using natural resources to amuse themselves and Western toys can cause discord and jealousy. However, a common request is for ‘tape walkmans’ to listen to music.
Apart from her support for the children’s home in Zambia, Rosa is in contact with various projects worldwide in Algeria, Australia, Brazil, Columbia, France, Pakistan, Japan, Zaire, and a leprosy hospital in India - her energy is astounding!
Pictured above: Rosa in her home with just some of the items destined to Zambia