Marsha Winsryg couldn’t have predicted how one word would change her life.

Titled How One Decision Can Change Your Life, Ms. Winsryg hosted a lunch lecture on Friday at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum about how her experience visiting her daughter in Africa sparked the beginning of African Artists Community Development Project, her nonprofit organization.

In 1996, while her eldest daughter was studying abroad at the University of Tanzania, Ms. Winsryg and her younger daughter decided to travel from West Tisbury to visit her. When craftsman Foster Wachata at Victoria Falls in Zambia asked Ms. Winsryg to bring back crafts to sell in the United States, she had no idea her answer would shape the beginning of a long relationship with the community.

“I looked at him and I really had to think,” Ms. Winsryg said during the lecture. “But I thought to myself, why not? Instead of saying I don’t think so, I said yes.”

Marsha Winsryg and Sister Immaculata from the Mama Bahkita Cheshire Home in Livingstone, Zambia — Ray Ewing

Ms. Winsryg started buying crafts, selling them on the Vineyard and sending the money back to Zambia. When Ms. Winsryg wanted to do more for the community, she was introduced to the Mama Bahkita Cheshire Home in Livingstone, Zambia, run by the Little Sisters of Saint Francis. The home provides support and resources to children in the area with disabilities.

“In Zambia because of the lack of healthcare, there are many instances of cerebral palsy and other disabilities that aren’t getting the [attention] they deserve,” Ms. Winsyrg told the crowd assembled at the museum. “They were doing the best they could do at the time.”

In 2007, the African Artists Community Development Project was born — an umbrella organization that encompases Mama Bahkita Cheshire Home, craft sales and the Zambezi Farm, a communal farm on 20 acres of land.

The support the work Ms. Winsryg conducts fundraising efforts through craft sales, art tours in Italy with all proceeds going to the organization, and by soliciting donations from sponsors. She also visits Zambia often, working with the children and the staff at the Mama Bahkita Cheshire Home and meeting with constituents to continue growing the local economy.

The African Artists Community Development Project team has also sponsored education for young adults. During the lecture, Ms. Winsryg highlighted specific individuals at the home who she has watched grow up over the years. Because the home supports numerous children with cerebral palsy, her dream was to have a physiotherapist on site.

Working on the Zambezi farm. — Marsha Winsryg

“Busiko Mpongo worked as an aide at Mama Bahkita and eventually came up to me and said she wanted to go to school for physiotherapy,” Ms. Winsryg said. “So we raised money and... sent her to school. Due to her unstable schooling in the past, she struggled. But she worked and worked and this year she graduated and was hired as a full-time physiotherapist at the home.”

Ms. Winsryg plans to host more talks throughout the summer about her experiences in Zambia, including how the local government there has played a helpful role in her organization.

Ms. Winsryg’s most recent visit to Zambia was earlier this year, where she continued her work to support the Mama Bahkita Cheshire Home, the Zambezi Farm and the community she’s developed a deep connection with over the years.

“It’s ongoing,” Ms. Winsryg said of the work.

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