On May 7th Christine (Mansfield shop manager) and I set out on our very first visit to Zambia. We arrived in Lusaka early Sunday evening. Our first night was spent in the capital with our Zambian Trustee Gulam, there we received our itinerary and had dinner with the family. After travelling for 48 hours and the fact that the sun has set at about 6pm and everywhere is pitch black we wisely decided to retire early ready for our 6am Start the next morning.

We woke early to have breakfast and prepare for what was going to be a long day. Excited but slightly apprehensive about what we were going to encounter. The first leg of our journey was over 300km to Nyimba, the views were beautiful and looking back we were immensely fortunate to have tarmac road for the majority of the journey.

After arriving in Nyimba there was only time for a quick pit stop, we were informed Chief Luembe had actually delayed his trip to Lusaka just to meet us. Despite having to make the same 300km journey we had just made the Chief still found time to not only have a meeting with us, he also instructed us to bring all our charity things in to his palace and he would help us sort them out. Such a lovely gentleman, working hard to improve his Chiefdom for the villagers and it was such an honor to meet him.

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After meeting with the Chief we set off to go and visit a couple of the schools in his area who had received goods from the UK. Unfortunately, when we arrived at the first school Mulamba there were no children, it was then our guide Matteo realised that it was the first day back after school holidays and the children would have registered and then left for the day. We still managed to have a look at the school and see the pile of stones which were to be used for the foundations for the new classroom.

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As you can see by the pictures this is not what you expect when you are told you are visiting a school. This is a community school which is ran by a member of the community that would be considered to be clever enough to teach the children. There are not always tables or chairs to sit on so children would sit on the floor or on a make shift seat. It was at that point we realised exactly why we were there and why we are trying to make a difference.

The next school we visited was a government school called Simalama, this was a vast improvement to the community school and it is staffed with actual teachers. However, on arrival there were no students, after a quick chat with the Headmaster he kindly hopped on his motorbike and rounded up some of the children so we could give them the gifts we had brought for them.

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This school is brick built and more resembles what you would expect to see, there is a 3 by 1 new building being added to the school, this will provided two extra classrooms for the pupils. The buildings in the last picture are where the teachers are provided accommodation whilst working at the school.

The next and last school for the day was along what Matteo called a shortcut. Now once you leave the tarmac roads in Nyimba you are truly driving off road and it’s pretty rough going, well so we thought! the shortcut we were now taking to get to Chanda a community school on the border of Luembe and Mwape was like nothing you could ever imagine. You could actually walk faster than we could drive and the word pothole has a whole new meaning. I’m not sure the words I used to express my gratitude for this shortcut are actually acceptable for the website but needless to say I asked that next time we drive the long way around.

At Chanda we encountered the headmaster a lovely man called Zulu Washington, he was very passionate about his school and the help he needed. He had nowhere safe to keep tables and chairs he had received and sometimes chairs would be taken away by the villagers, he told us his teachers had ran away. You couldn’t help but feel sympathetic for this man who is trying his best for the future generation in his small community. To make us feel a little worse, he left his lunch to come and chat with us and whilst doing so the chickens stole it.

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After being informed that once we arrived in Nyimba (our base for 2 days) we would travel to Luembe, visit the Cheif and three schools, we didn’t think this was a great amount of work and with time here being precious we wanted to see as much as possible. However after actually doing these simple tasks most of the day was gone , the off road travelling is just exhausting and moving around takes ten times longer when there are no tar roads. Our first official day of work was definitely eye opening.

We arrived at our accommodation for the night at around 5pm. Dinner was already being prepared for our return and within no time at all the sun set and it was dark, with no light pollution there were millions of stars, so we sat out for a few hours mesmorised by the night sky, watching owls, bats and listening to all the new sounds we were encountering. Eventually, we noticed our poor night watchman was wrapped up in a huge winter coat and huddled in front of what was left of the small fire he cooked dinner on , feeling slightly guilty that this man must be freezing and there we were in shorts and t-shirts we retired so he could relax or get on with whatever he does when we aren’t around.


Bright and early the next morning and this time prepared for the day ahead we got ready to visit some places around Nyimba before leaving around lunch time to travel to Nyamvu our new base for a few days.

Nyimba has a tar road and everything is centered along this, the shops, market, also the hospital and police station which were going to visit later.

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We started the morning by heading out of town to a Mnyazi Basic School and Headmistress Catherine Phiri, Mnyazi is a government school with about 400 pupils from different age ranges. As this school has most of the basic supplies needed they were telling us that what they really need now is laptops and computers. Of course, my first thought was how can these be of any use when you don’t have electric? Obviously, when explained that they have solar power chargers, I couldn’t help but think that for a developing country they are far more resourceful than people in the developed world.

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After leaving Mnyazi, we drove back into town to Nyimba East Primary. The children and staff as with all the schools so far were delighted to see us. There are 386 children of different ages enrolled at the school and it is very well maintained and run by a lovely yet formidable headmistress named Lita. As with the last school they told us they needed laptops etc. Lita informed us she was going to get electric wired to the school and after just speaking to her for a short while I can well imagine that she won’t accept no for an answer!

A teenage girl named Joy stood in front of her class and thanked us for the support they receive from us in the UK and said she was grateful for everything we do and she hopes we will continue to send things for them. She was a lovely young girl with such a charming personality I don’t think I will ever forget her and can only hope she achieves her dreams. At least being in school she certainly has the opportunity.

We gave the children the gifts we had for them and the sports teacher was thrilled with the football we took, in fact I’m sure he was smiling more than the children.

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On leaving Nyimba East we headed over to the other side of town and dropped into Walter Heibert School for orphans & vulnerable children. Unfortunately, this school was not on our scheduled list and as it was not planned we didn’t have much time there at all, just enough for a flying visit. Although this was a brick built school like the government schools it was not in such a good state of repair and they are still in need of basic supplies.

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On the same side of town was Nyimba Boarding Secondary School, the Headmaster was happy to welcome us and a member of staff kindly showed us around.

As you can see by the pictures this school is much wealthier than all the other schools as you would expect from a secondary, it has nice well kept green areas, big library, cooking classes, science classes etc, more like what we think of when you are going to visit a school.

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That concluded all the schools for the day, we were then going back to the centre of town to visit the police station and hospital. Unfortunately, the doctor had become busy and unable to show us around, they did offer to rearrange but we were leaving the area that afternoon and wouldn’t have time. Our next and final visit for the day was to the police station. It was pretty small compared to what you see back home. We spent a while talking with the police lady in charge and  her second in command, there was also another youngish guy in the room in a Chelsea shirt, she told us he was her undercover officer, immediately we said “Zambian CSI”. After some discussion about his choice of tshirt and Leicester City winning the premiership we got back to the important things we needed to discuss, the reason we were there. Which was to see how we have helped, after showing us the equipment they had received they told us how grateful they were for our help not only for themselves but for everything we do.

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With all the days work done it was now time to start the trip to our next destination. Nyamvu, several hours drive away and no tar road for any of the journey. We were due to arrive at our jungle destination around sunset, which in Zambia around 5.30pm. Little did we know that along the jungle road the scenery would be so beautiful and that we would encounter animals you only see on Attenboroughs Planet Earth.

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A long but beautiful journey and we arrived at Nyamvu which was like paradise. The camp is built on the edge of the Luangwa river. Beautiful views and wildlife around every corner. Park rangers and scouts do an outstanding job of protecting the animals from poaches. Conservation in this area has promoted more wildlife to come, they are not fenced in and are free to roam and even leave anytime but it is like the animals know they are safe and protected and remain around the area, there is large feeding areas where they take food for the animals this encourages them to stay in Nyamvu land where they can be protected. If they leave the area then the scouts can’t protect them.

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The hippo chorus is probably the best alarm clock you could wish for. It was a new day and new places to visit. waking up in such beautiful surroundings you quickly forget about the long bumpy journey. Within an hour we were soon reminded as we went off to visit Chieftainess Mwape and her Chiefdom. We got to the Palace relatively early, we were escorted into what you can only describe as a waiting/meeting area. Such a wonderful lady and cares so much about her community, she has the milling machine for the villages which we installed, a borehole, village shop. It is a thriving little community, as you look around, it becomes apparent the amount of effort and dedication she puts in.

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Although we sat for a while she soon told our guide and driver to take us to the school and the clinic. We had arrived too early and the Chieftainess was a little disappointed as she got up early to prepare lunch for us and it was still two hour until lunchtime.

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We jumped back in the jeep and off we went. Our first stop was at the local clinic where free malaria nets were being handed out, although extremely busy the staff found the time to show us around and it wasn’t quite what we expected although I’m not actually sure what I did expect.As you can see by the pictures some of the equipment looks familiar, these are items donated from the UK.

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On leaving the clinic we took the short ride over to the school, children from grades 1 to 9 with a grand total of 298 children are enrolled in this school and I believe the majority of them came out to welcome us, I’m not sure despite being told to the contrary that any school work actually got done! We proved to be a very welcome distraction. One thing that did amaze us was their fascination with the digital cameras. Whenever you get the camera out the kids become shy and run off but as soon as we showed them their picture on the screen we instantly had a crowd wanting photos and then to look at them. For us cameras are an everyday part of life yet to these kids it was like magic.

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We took a little drive around the village on the way back for lunch with the Cheifteness. It was all pretty quiet as a lot of the children were at school and the women had gone to the clinic to collect their malaria nets, although we passed a few on their way back to their homes.

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We went back to the Chieftainess and firstly asked if we had been gone a sufficient amount of time. It was quite surreal being sat in the Palace with the lady in charge serving us dinner and teaching us to speak her language. She could not thank us enough for what we have done for her community and hopes our support will continue. Such a formidable and wise lady with a kind heart and wonderful sense of humor, the brief time we had with her just wasn’t enough.

It had been an event filled day, unfortunately we had to go back to camp to pack our belongings, leaving the beauty of Nyamvu came all to soon but we were back on the road again early the next morning to travel to our new camp Tundwe which would be home for the remainder of our stay in rural Zambia. We had one last evening at the camp fire to stare at the beautiful night sky, listen to the hippo chorus, elephants trumpeting and be a little scared by the lions roaring, we were starting to enjoy living in the jungle despite the fact that at any given moment a wild animal could just stroll into camp and spiders had legs like pipe cleaners.

It was becoming all to familiar that travelling in Zambia is not quite like home, the new camp was not actually that far as the crow flies or in a boat, which by the way I would not have taken on a crocodile and hippo infested river. By road it was a considerable drive, there aren’t roads everywhere and schortcuts may well be shorter but you can walk faster. So the actual quickest way is the long way round. Once on the road we had to head back to Nyimba and then along the T4 passing through Petauke, we stopped at Chipata for suppplies for camp and pizza for us. After Chipata was Mfue and the the last hour of the journey was off road and back into the jungle and then the beauty of Tundwe.

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Saturday morning our last day full day in the bush. We started with a visit to Nyamalama a Government training school for scouts. Unfortunately, we hadn’t actually realised it was Saturday and there was only the site manager around although it was his day off he did show us around the camp. Scouts reside here during their training and after they graduate they are literally let loose into the wild, these scouts will spend there days protecting the beautiful wildlife this country has and tracking any poachers that they are alerted to.

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On leaving Nyamalama we headed over to Malanga school. Mr Nyirenda informed us that this school has 117 children enrolled and with only two classrooms they have to make use of the church and a shelter type structure to accommodate the children.

With us on our Journey we were accompanied by Bernard the bear, he was made from recycled materials by a student at West Notts College. He had his own passport, camera and came with pictures of his brother he had left behind in England while he had been on his travels. We decided to leave Bernard with the teachers at Malanga so they could tell his story to the children in the school. (The first five pictures below are Bernards journey). Malanga was closed but a few locals had seen us arrive and had come to see what was going on, even though there were only a few children we left things for those that weren’t there.

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After a teary goodbye with Bernard, we left for Kalengo and although this school was also closed, word had spread that we were arriving and the kids took the time to come down to the school to meet us. It was quite sad that this was the end of the rural part of our journey but these children were so pleased to see us and made our visit very special. After playing some football the children performed a dance for us. Christine attempted to capture this on video, well she thought she did. After the fact we realised she didn’t actually press the record button and stood for almost ten minutes with her arm outstretched for no reason! So unfortunately, we only have the pictures.

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Sunday morning we started our long 800km journey back to our hosts in Lusaka. The road back saw us travel back through Chipata, Petauke and Nyimba and eventually by sunset we arrived home in Lusaka.

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Once back in Lusaka and after a good nights sleep we went to visit Makeni Islamic Society. On the site there is a clinic and a school. Care and education are provided for people who are less fortunate than others and in the school the majority of children only pay for part of there fees and some don’t pay any fees at all. There is no support from the government it is completely run and financed by the society. There is a garden where the produce grown is used to reduce cost of food for the residential pupils, what the society is currently achieving is a perfect example of what can be achieved when people work together.

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After we left Makeni, we went for a drive around the city, looking at the compounds which we would consider to be the poorer areas, these are situated around the industrial areas of the city. Even though we had just spent a week in villages where there is not really adequate health care, education and sanitation it was quite shocking to see this poor living standard in the city. You can clearly see that there is a massive divide here between classes.

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Leaving the compounds we headed over to Manda Hill Mall. For the first time since we arrived in Zambia it actually felt something like home. It was like a whole different world from where we had just come from. There were cafes with proper coffee machines, takeaways, restaurants, shops etc. The only problem was by the time we actually got there due to the traffic we only had time for a coffee and we had to head back home for dinner. Being completely honest although we were missing all these things, we could see them when we got back to England, we were more interested in what was different than what we had the same.

By now it was Tuesday and the official working part of our trip was over and it was now vacation time until our flight home on Saturday. We were told we couldn’t visit Zambia and not see Mosi o Tunya (Victoria Falls). Our driver collected us for one final 3 day road trip. It was only a six hour drive and by this point the jeep felt as much like home as anywhere else in fact I think we had spent more time travelling than anything.

Of course as with any other day by the time we get to Livingstone it was dark but this time as it’s a tourist area, we were able to go out to our local cafe and a look around the shops before we retired for the night. Our hotel lodge had a TV, which we happily watched for an hour or so before realising it was running the cable promo advert, it must have been the novelty of having a TV to watch in the evening.

The next morning we were collected for our lion walk, this seemed like an opportunity of a lifetime (in all fairness it was) but the reality was when you are sat stroking an 18 month old lion its more like an episode of fear factor. We spent an hour with two lions, brother and sister, we sat with them and then walked around the reservation with them. I didn’t think life could get any better than this right now but after we left the lions we headed over to the Victoria Falls.

Anyone who knows me will tell you its not very often I am speechless but stood in front of them falls we were silent and completely in awe of the power and sound the Zambezi River creates as it thunders over the top. The correct name for the falls is Mosi o Tunya which means ‘the smoke that thunders’ and that is exactly it. The thunder is so loud you can hardly hear yourself think and the mist of pouring rain is like smoke you can’t see through. Phenominal!

Our last excursion in Livingstone was the African Queen boat ride up the Zambezi to see the sunset, behind you is the rainbow created by the falls and in front is wide open river with the most beautiful sunset. A perfect end to a perfect day!

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On Thursday morning we headed back home to Lusaka, this was to be the last trip with our driver Merv, he was so much more a driver he had kept us safe, fed and watered us for the entire journey. Wherever we went, whatever we did he was with us like our own personal bodyguard and the majority of the time our photographer. Over the two weeks we had grown attached to him, we spent many evenings together in the jungle (mainly because he had a gun and we were extremely scared!). It would be more than fair to say we’d have been lost without him. When we finally got back to Lusaka it was an emotional goodbye and hopefully we will get to see him again in the future but until then whatsapp will have to do!

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Our final two days were spent at the house with Gulam & Zanub.  A lovely relaxing end to a whirlwind tour of a beautiful country.


Since the moment we walked through the door on that first day, we were made to feel like part of the family. Gulam and his son Zaeed arranged our itinerary, provided us not only with the car and Merv but food, drinks and accommodation throughout the whole trip. We can never thank them enough for their hospitality and generosity.

This trip would have not been possible without Savanna Rags (our sponsor). They covered the expenses for return flights and vaccinations. Having a sponsor that believes in what we do is a huge privilege and we are proud to work so closely with them.