I was lucky enough to work in the Lower Zambezi a few years ago and it was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. To work and live in a remote and wild part of the world, amongst the wildlife is a humbling and grounding experience.
I worked with a team of local men, most of whom came from the surrounding rural villages. Most of them had basic primary education, but the majority had no access to secondary education. The main source of employment is at the safari lodges in and around the National Park. Those who are employed usually work from March to November, as the majority of the lodges close for the rainy season.
I fell in love with this place, it reached out and grabbed me by the heart. Even after I left I felt compelled to stay connected to this place.
It became clear to me that I could help raise funds for disadvantaged and orphaned children living in the Chiawa region of Zambia, which is a rural and remote area where children only have access to secondary education if they have funds to pay for it. There are many bright, aspiring children that I have committed to help in collaboration with the conservation unit in the Lower Zambezi who will run the sponsorship programme on the ground. This project tallies nicely with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals which inspired me a couple of years ago when I acknowledged that anyone and everyone can make a difference, even me and that the accumulative effect would build.
I am collaborating with Queen Ethelberga’s near York, who have agreed to sponsor a Zambian secondary school called Gota Gota and with that in mind, we will be travelling over in June 2018 with a group of students to paint the classrooms and take out much-needed sports equipment.
In June, I am leading a small group on a sponsored canoe trip down the croc and hippo infested waters of the Zambezi river to raise funds to pay for 9 children to go to secondary school. Children are chosen on merit and have to be a member of the school conservation club. They sign a ‘contract’ to commit to their education and their progress is monitored and tracked.
I am also working on getting sponsors so that we can build a dormitory so that the children have somewhere safe to sleep.