We believe that you want to do more than just observe the world. You want to make a difference. You want to leave a legacy for future generations to inherit. You want to leave this world better than you found it.
We too are on the same page, that is why we choose camps, lodges, and operators who support their local communities and protect environments. The first line of that support is through meaningful and fulfilling employment. But most of our providers go much further than that. They provide housing, schools, clinics, and essential infrastructure, like clean water, the most important factor in health outcomes.
Camilla Rhodes is the co-ordinator for A&K Philanthropy in Zambia and is based at the Sussi & Chuma camp on the Zambesi River, not far from the Victoria Falls and Livingstone. In this interview, she talks about the marvellous projects that she and her team are sponsoring in Zambia. We were privileged to visit the Nakatindi Village and see some of these projects for ourselves.
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Some people may say that you should take pens, pencils, and paper to give to the children in villages you might visit, however, there are a few potential problems with this.
Firstly, drawing directly on the work of Maslow, Camilla Rhodes of A&K Philanthropy says that "a child cannot learn hungry, (in the above interview)." So, whilst pens and paper will be gladly accepted, we know of storerooms full of stationery in villages where the children don't even get to eat breakfast. It's important to recieve current and local information about your destination when planning how you intend to help.
In the Nakatindi village, AKP is helping the villagers plant crops that the Lodges then in turn want to buy. This provides an income for the village as the Lodges would willingly buy from them, rather than source from a distant large town, city or conglomerate. So in this case, it would be more beneficial to bring seeds than pens.
AKP also created a Bike Shop in the village, where donated bicycles are repaired and sold in town. The Chipego Bike Shop employs villagers and the profits are used to run the School. Another idea would then to bring bicycle parts with as these are much more useful - and sustainable - than paper.
This then touches on a sensitive topic, because giving seeds to an elder may not give you the same gratification as giving a gift to a child. The unfortunate reality is that handing out gifts to children encourages unseemly clamouring and eventually begging, which undermines the proud culture of local people. The lodges, the village elders, and parents of the children all wish that tourists would not do that. Any gift or donation should be made to an elder or to the Lodge that supports the village. Your willingness to do this and forego the gratification of a recipient child smiling back at you whilst receiving a gift is a genuine test of your altruism.
Finally, the most potent donation you can make is in the form of cash. This requires a leap of faith, so we suggest that if you have doubts about how the money will be used, then first ask your guide or Lodge Manager to arrange a visit to the projects they support in the local village. You may be surprised to see how far your dollar can go.