Project Luangwa (PL) is an Charitable Trust registered with the UK Charity Commission, a Trust in Zambia and a 501(c)3 in the USA. We are based in the Mfuwe area of the Eastern Province in an area full of wildlife but which can be a harsh and unforgiving place to live for a local Zambian. Tourism is the main source of income but most people have to survive by subsistence farming. Project Luangwa, with the help of its member safari lodges, channels income from tourism and donated funds to helping local communities and, in particular, women and vulnerable children.
Project Luangwa (PL) supports schools and community projects in and around South Luangwa National Park in the Eastern Province of Zambia by building infrastructure and supplying books and local teachers. We arrange sponsorship for orphans and vulnerable children and encourage children and students to build a relationship with their sponsors.
PL runs a women’s craft workshop which teaches local women skills that enable them to become independent wage earners. We welcome visitors to meet the ladies, buy their products or volunteers to teach new skills. PL encourages gender equality, runs several girls’ clubs and makes and distributes washable sanitary pads enabling post-pubescent girls to attend school every day of the month. It is important to us that we work closely with the community and listen to their opinions in all aspects of what we do – for example our gender support manager (a qualified Zambian social worker) works with the local ‘alagezi’ (village elder dealing with feminine issues) when distributing feminine products.
We are happy to meet visitors to explain what we do and can occasionally arrange visits to our projects and visit some very special community schools.
It is important to PL that we do not distribute aid but work to enable local community members have a greater chance to support themselves. This comes in many forms; for example building classrooms, working to improve education opportunities and arranging sponsorship – all which gives local children a chance of finding a job in later life, teaching craft and business skills to local women and employing them to make sanitary pads and other items.
Whilst we involve the local communities in all that we do we do not run a tourism business and so cannot ‘tick’ the second box.
PL is an NGO and not a tour operator; however the vast majority of our income comes from tourism, both directly and indirectly. Around 95% of all donations are spent locally. Our programme employs over 100 local people (local teachers, builders and unskilled labour, women). We employ a trained and experienced Zambian to run girls’ clubs where girls learn to cope with all that life throws to them, that they can do just as well as boys and that they can make choices about their own lives.
PL was the first (both NGO or other) to introduce an environmental policy. An example is that we do not use tradional hand-made brick (that uses a large amount of local wood to fire) for building but instead make cement blocks on site.