Tongabezi Lodge supports education in Zambia.

Did you know about 70 percent of Zambians are under 30 and around 46 percent are under 15? This is a very young population without a significant older cohort to show the way, which is why education is so crucial. Every year on 12 March, the country celebrates Youth Day in recognition that today’s school child is tomorrow’s lodge manager, wildlife vet or game ranger.

Many safari operators run extensive schooling projects across the country as they are positioned in remote areas that may be far from education centres. Your support of these projects helps ensure more Zambian children have formal education, which in turn helps to reduce unemployment, minimise crime and improve overall health, well-being and financial security. Education helps understand the need for all aspects of conservation.

Although no school fees are charged in Zambia, parents and guardians still have to find funds for boarding in very rural areas and uniforms, stationery and equipment, costs that are often way beyond their earnings. This is where so many incredible people step in to help.

New clothes and uniforms from Project Luangwa bring huge smiles.

The Impact of Tourists like You

Many people think that being a visitor can’t really make a difference. But they’d be wrong.

As Ian MacAllan, CEO of Project Luangwa, says, ‘Nearly all of what we are able to achieve is a direct result of tourism’.

This is because so many lodges and camps donate a small portion of your nightly rates to organisations like Project Luangwa, creating a cash injection.

But that’s not all: many guests bring stationery, toiletries, uniforms, shoes, toys and sports equipment. A pair of soccer boots may not mean much to you or your children but they mean the world to a boy who’s being playing barefoot on a dusty patch of ground peppered with little stones.

Here are some lodges and projects that actively support Zambia’s kids (there are many more). Wherever you’re staying, ask if they have Pack For A Purpose requests or bring along necessities – every donation will find a use, we promise!

(It’s tempting to dish out sweets or balloons but please don’t. Dentists are in very short supply and balloon plastic is devastating to wildlife.)

Flatdogs Camp

Flatdogs started Chiyembekezo Pre-school in response to the number of very young children who were not receiving much formal early childhood development care. Today about 50 youngsters between four and six are looked after. This is their Pack For A Purpose wish list.

Flatdogs Camp has long been a funder of schooling in South Luangwa.

Ila Safari Lodge

Up in Kafue, Ila is working towards building three more sandbag classrooms for the Lukanga Secondary School, a technique that reduces carbon emissions. It also co-ordinates supplies for the Chunga Community School.

Island Bush Camp and Kafunta River Lodge

Kafunta Safaris, the owners of Island Bush Camp, Kafunta River Lodge and Three Rivers Camp, run the Mfuwe Sports Association as a way of keeping children occupied after school and during holidays with soccer, netball and basketball. Sports equipment is always welcome! This is what you can bring for Island Bush Camp and Kafunta River Lodge.

Lilayi Lodge

Lilayi supports the Shantumbu School in Kafue, which caters for around 2 600 children aged five to 18. Built in 1959, it needs not only regular maintenance but also extra classrooms and laboratories. Here’s how to help Shantumbu out.

Royal Zambezi Lodge

The extensive needs of the Mugurameno, Kanyangala, Chisakila and Malabanyika Schools and the 1 400 pupils they cater for are partially met by Royal Zambezi. Funds and donations are always appreciated for everything from paint to uniforms.

Tongabezi Lodge

In the Livingstone / Victoria Falls area and operated by Green Safaris, which contributes to the Tongabezi Trust School (also known as Tujantane) at Mukuni Village. Started in 1996, the school now has around 240 pupils and has kicked off fundraising for the Twaabane Creative Centre.

Project Luangwa

Based in South Luangwa, Project Luangwa’s twin aims are education and gender equality with a dazzling array of work for each. In addition to building and maintaining much school infrastructure, sourcing textbooks, sponsoring pupils, providing menstrual products and even tree-planting, they co-ordinate financial contributions from lodges in the area.

Two especially noteworthy projects are Digilearn and the Foundation Programme for Young Achievers. Digilearn has pupils and dedicated teaching coaches working via tablets, improving not only digital literacy but also helping to reduce classroom sizes. The entire Zambian curriculum can be taught this way and children using this technology generally improved their exam results.

The Foundation Programme helps prepare pupils leaving school for employment or further education: if you have matriculated from a small community school in the bush, imagine going to study or work in Lusaka at just 18! It helps them with everything from English and financial planning to how to use Word and Powerpoint – even how to eat out in a city restaurant. Many of us take these things for granted but they can be life-changing for someone else.

Girls in the Luangwa Valley were thrilled to be part of the Ufolo project.

What else?

If you are self-driving, what the needs are in the areas you are visiting and load up the vehicle. Some ideas to consider:

  • Solar-powered lamps so children can study at night. Girls, especially, often only get to do homework when it’s dark as they have so many household chores to do. They also have to look after younger siblings while their parents work. In addition, candles are expensive.
  • Washable, reusable sanitary pads or support Project Luangwa’s Ufolo project. Teenage girls can miss weeks of school a year because they don’t have access to pads. A few dollars can change everything.
  • Soccer balls and boots Zambian boys are footie mad so a fresh ball or two will always be welcome
  • Your old bras… Used bras in good condition are distributed by Project Luangwa to teenage girls who can’t afford their own. Like pads, this simple item can turn their worlds around.
  • Your time and expertise If you’re going to be in the area for a while, find out what projects are happening and how you can help. Teachers, engineers, builders, sports coaches and so on have all helped out by sharing their skills.