South Luangwa has a beauty and magic all of its own but it can be a harsh and unforgiving place, especially for the local people. There are no natural resources, such as copper, in the area and little employment apart from in tourism. Whilst wild animals attract tourists they also raid crops; an entire year’s supply of maize can disappear overnight with the visit of a few elephants. The vast majority of local people are subsistence farmers and have an income below the international poverty line.
Project Luangwa is a charitable organisation which aims to help the local community in and around South Luangwa improve their economic prospects through developing schools; supporting girls and women by encouraging both self-esteem and self-reliance; providing training facilities and helping to get more kids into school through sponsorship. We are not a quick-fix organisation and look for long term sustainable solutions that give a hand-up rather than a hand-out.
The charity was formed in 2009 and is supported by five safari operators in the Luangwa Valley as part of their commitment to helping the local communities. Many lodges give a small percentage of the amount an individual guest pays each night to community projects and conservation – and the lodges who are members of Project Luangwa pass their funds to us. This covers our administration costs and so we are very proud to say that we can guarantee that 100% of all donations are used to directly support your chosen project.
Project Luangwa is run by Karen Beattie and Dave Hopson, a British couple who live and work within the Mfuwe community.
School and Community problems
There are over 25 schools in the area surrounding Mfuwe but just two are secondary schools. Teachers struggle with few resources and often there is just one textbook for the whole class.
Too few classrooms coupled with an inadequate number of teachers means that it is not unusual to see up to 100 kids in a class and many will be sitting on the floor due to a lack of desks and chairs. But these are the lucky ones; primary schooling is free but at secondary level there are far too few places and many parents cannot afford school fees, uniform or even exercise books.
Due to HIV/Aids and other diseases we have a large number of orphans in the area. At one small community school 210 of the 318 pupils are double orphans.
Fewer girls attend school than boys and often do not achieve their potential. This may be due to tradition and culture, sexual abuse, teenage pregnancy, early marriage low expectations and self-esteem or just because they have more home chores to do than boys. Often by the time they have finished it is too dark to study or do homework and many families cannot afford candles.
What we do
- Build new classrooms, libraries, and science blocks
- Renovate old classrooms
- Build and refurbish teachers’ accommodation
- Provide desks and chairs
- Donate teaching aids and text books
- Fund additional teachers at community schools
- Build and support community Schools
- Sink bore holes
- Provide toilet facilities
- Fund the training of new teachers
- Plant trees at schools
- Give out solar lights to day pupils so they can study in the evenings
- Arrange pupil sponsorship to school and students to college and university
- Promote conservation education
- Help girls with social issues, run Girls’ Days, provide bras and help with sanitary wear
- Encourage better literacy with a Literacy and Reading Scheme
- Donate books for libraries
- Donate wheelchairs and help with medical issues
- Provide hope for the future
- Kids in the Wild – each year we take 25 kids on a 5 day/4 night safari where they experience lodge life, try different foods and, most importantly take trips into the National Park to see the wildlife.We hope to encourage the next generation to conserve their environment and wild animals to ensure a future for, not just the wildlife, but for tourism and therefore the community.
- Girls’ Days – Groups of thirty or more girls are invited to a day of ‘girlie stuff’ where do all sorts of activities – from fitting bras to chatting about menstruation, discussing pressure from boys to caring for your health.
- School Visits – we are always happy to show visitors our projects and the schools in our area.
- Drama – In 2012 we commissioned our local drama, group SEKA, to produce a play about girls’ problems. They came up with a relevant piece of drama that tackles school girl abuse and pregnancy through humour and audience participation. We show this at villages and schools and after invite the audience to discuss what they have seen. Visitors can fund and attend a performance during their stay.
How can visitors help
- Sending a donation – One of the best ways to help is by sending a donation. This is probably the most effective thing you can do as it allows us to develop schools, buy text books, provide teachers and so on. Remember we spend 100% of your donation on your chosen project. However there are lots of other ways to help too.
- Pupil sponsorship – each year we arrange sponsorship for around 120 kids at secondary level who would not otherwise be able to attend school. This is arranged on a one to one basis so you can choose and build a relationship with your child through letters and even visits. There is much more information on our sponsorship page.
- Sending/bringing books for our libraries – especially the new Mfuwe Day Secondary School Library.
- Bring-a-Bra – after realising that most girls are unable to find or afford a bra, and were embarrassed by this, we recently launched our Bring-a-Bra scheme. You can pack a few bras (secondhand bras in good condition are fine) or some new knickers into a corner of your travel bag.
- School stationery – you can bring school equipment to donate such as pens, maths sets and so on in a spare corner of your travel bag. There is a list of needs on the website.
- Volunteer – Certain times of the year are busier than others and sometimes we need volunteers who can stay for at least 2 to 3 months. Project managers for building projects and office help (especially at sponsorship time) are our greatest needs. We also occasionally have space for teachers to work on our Literacy Scheme too.
If you can fill a bag with donated goodies we can help you get them from Lusaka to Mfuwe free of any change. See here for details on bringing or sending items to Mfuwe.
There’s a huge amount of information on our website with pages for sponsorship, volunteers, what to bring, suitable books to bring and even bras.
Call at the office: Chinzombo (ZAWA offices), Mfuwe
Post: PO Box 27, Mfuwe
Telephone: 00260 (0) 216 246 265 / 00260 (0) 974250152 /3