Falconer Children’s Home
and Orphanage, Kabulamema, Zambia
Lilias Falconer was born on the 15th July 1915 in Manchester. At the age of 15 she 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 training by the Salvation Army and after a course in tropical medicine sailed for Africa with another lady missionary on board a troop ship in 1946, commencing her nursing career in a leper hospital in Chitokoloki Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) later that year. 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 left Chitokoloki and on her own 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, that was in 1952. During those years at Kabulamema 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.
It was Miss Falconers wish that her work would be carried on by her children and the success story of the Home is that some of the children have stayed and 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 babe just two days old. Now in his sixties he oversees the needs of an ever increasing family. Now in her thirties, 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 a staff of 25 cares for over 100 children.
The work that Miss Falconer began in 1947 is today being carried on by her children. 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”.