It’s Monday 2nd February 2010 and community news

I was supposed to be at home today but I have not managed to tell you everything I wanted to before I handed Its Monday over to ……? Well, the who comes later. I wanted to report on the new school that so many of you helped build last year. Katapilla School.

Andrew Lucas at NsefuKawaza Village

But firstly let me introduce you to Andrew Lucas. He and his family spent a week with us in 2007. He simply loved the bush but even more was very moved by his day at the Kawaza Village and the school. He was a confident young man who was fully engaged with life in every way and on his return to the UK he wanted to raise money to help the students. Very tragically, at 17, he died last year in an accident whilst on a mountain walking holiday. His family and friends decided to carry out his plans and have been raising money in his name for the new school at Katapilla. Along with all the contributions sent by everyone, this has allowed us to finally finish the first stage of the school. And a week ago we were delighted when the school finally opened. So this is a huge thank you to everyone who has contributed over the last year to this project. We now have a three classroom block, a teacher’s house and two toilet blocks. The kids are delighted as they could not get into other schools due to all being oversubscribed – and you can see their joy.

Luangwa ValleyLuangwa Valley

Before the government supports the community school by providing trained teachers we have to get to a minimum number and so need to build a second teachers house. We aim to start this in May and need to raise USD 20,000. If you would like to contribute please do so either through the Andrew Lucas Just Giving page or through our normal channels (see website).

Luangwa Valleycommunity development in the Luangwa Valley

I really wanted photos for you so I asked Michelle to join the building contractors who were making the last visits to the schools. As the roads are now impassable by vehicle this meant crossing two rivers and cycling around ten kilometers through the village tracks. The river crossings are always precarious. If the river is low then everyone wades and the boat does not operate. If it is in flood then you are in danger of being swept away. And of course the crocodiles are another hazard. This was her second trip and she had to wade thigh deep through the first time. She had later discovered that a child had just been taken by a crocodile only twenty minutes before. (I can report that the child is recovering and will be fine! The mother apparently yanked the child out of the crocodile’s jaws. Yikes!). Anyway – she was a little anxious as you can imagine but this time the river was deep enough for the boat.

community development in the Luangwa Valleycommunity development in the Luangwa Valley

At the school she found the kids in the classroom. She explained why she was there and that Madam Jo wanted photos. There was much celebration and joy expressed! Including some interesting dancing from the teacher!!

So….where are we going with the community work? Well I am setting a new charity called Project Luangwa. This will be an umbrella project through which a number of lodges can work with the community. We currently have five lodges as confirmed members and two further “almost there”. I believe the sum of our efforts will have a far more effective impact in the community. There are currently many schools without any sponsorship whilst other schools are well developed. We plan to bring all the schools in a defined area (2.5 Chiefdoms, so a large area) up to a certain level and once we have done that we can slowly raise the bar. We plan to introduce a micro financing scheme for women, offer training for running small businesses, training of vocational skills and more. And of course the sponsorship of students will be central. There are many ideas brimming over as you can imagine. We will have full time managers who will run the projects far more effectively than we can. The launch will be in May or June but we are well on the way to having Project Luangwa in place and I am very excited to have lots of spare time to work on this new venture! Robin Pope Safaris is fully committed to raising money, continuing the relationship with the schools we have set up and helping with new projects.

South Luangwa South Luangwa

And finally, of course I have to report on the party that Robin and I had arranged as we had not been told about the surprise party last weekend. A few moments to share with you… was at our house, around 40 for lunch and we finally kicked everyone out at seven in the evening!

Luangwa ValleySouth Luangwa

Friday Mwale, a taxi driver in Lusaka who we have used for about ten years, flew up from Lusaka. He is a city man and had never been to the bush. His first animal? An elephant that wondered past the party – ignoring us all. It was a hot day and in the end the inevitable happened and people ended up being thrown in the pool. Actually, everyone jumped in to avoid being thrown in – clothes and all.

Luangwa ValleySouth Luangwa

And here is the lovely Rita, who is taking over from me, with a photo of Keyela and Daudi. I have no idea of what was said but it must have been hilarious!! Next week Rita will be with you but you will hear from Robin and I periodically. What we are up to and what adventures we are having. I look forward to chatting to you again!

Until then, remember to pick the daisies…..

from both Robin and I

Luangwa Valley

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