Travelling to Zambia? Please take a book!

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Apr 1st, 2004, 10:08 PM
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Travelling to Zambia? Please take a book!

In preparation for my next trip to Zambia, I contacted a woman I met on my last trip. She and her husband run a non-profit called Chipembele Wildlife Education Center in Mfuwe, near the South Luangwa National Park. This couple convinced a local chief to donate a chunk of land, they formed a local non-profit on a shoestring and they built a library, classroom and education center for Zambian schoolkids. Since these kids are the next generation who will ultimately decide the fate of wildlife in Zambia: Will conservation be a priority? Will poaching continue to threaten..get worse...or be policed by the local community? In truth, their supplemental classes are probably the best science education many of these kids ever get! And while they primarily serve the communities near the South Luangwa Park, they do get kids doing field trips to visit the center. (The kids camp out at other local schools, and have a great time.)

They have also put together a small but lovely library about wildlife and the environment. When I visited the Center, they told me that this is the only library these kids ever get to use. The local schools don't have the funds for enough textbooks, let alone a libary! And of course books are very expensive and hard to find in Zambia.

So I am planning to take some books to donate to their libary. If it is something they can't use, they will get it to a local school that can use it.

I know that everyone is pressed to pack light on their trips, but if you are going to South Luangwa, please try to find space for an extra book or two. Pick something you will enjoy reading on the flight over...and that would be a valuable addition to a local library. Then leave it with your camp, and ask them to get it to the Chipembele Wildlife Education Center. (Practically every camp has a person on the board of the new South Luangwa Conservation Trust, so they get together for meetings and other events).

There is no duty on books entering Zambia, and I have found that even local charter flights are willing to be flexible on luggage limits if you tell them that you are donating goods to a local school. It is an easy way to help both education and conservation in an area that many of us love...and that you will grow to love once you visit.

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