At Green Safaris we're not just about creating the dream holiday for our guests. We were born out of a romance with Africa and from the need to make a positive change in our communities and environments. So, we have decided to use this time to make something beautiful.
We have ramped up our efforts to support our neighbouring vulnerable, growing communities and wild spaces until they too can grow to be strong.
Most governments around the world are emphasising the importance of a few small steps on fighting the COVID-19 disease: isolation, social distancing, protecting the elderly and the immunocompromised, and washing your hands as often as possible.
But these are difficult goals in Malawi and Zambia, where families often live on top of each other in very small mud huts or houses, where community is a vital part of every person’s identity, where the elders are cared for by their children and grandchildren, and where many hygiene products are a luxury rather than a necessity.
We are taking steps to protect our staff and communities with a proactive education initiative and a delivery system for basic necessities.
Our teams are identifying the oldest and most vulnerable in the local villages and ensuring that they have an understanding of the situation and the support that they need. We are explaining social distancing, isolation, and simple affordable ways to maintain hygiene standards.
We have also initiated a delivery system to ensure that people in our immediate surroundings have access to basic hygiene and food products without needing to go into town and put themselves or their family at risk.
This system is still in its early stages but is likely to become a vital way to enable our community to avoid unnecessary contact and to curb the spread of the disease if it does reach our areas.
The Mosi oa Tunya National Park is Tongabezi Lodge’s favourite neighbour.
It is also home of 8 increasingly rare white rhinos as well as hundreds of other happy herbivores, sadly the park is sat right in the middle of a rather necessary highway from Botswana to Zambia.
This means that a lot of rubbish is thrown out of truck windows along the Kazangula Road and into an otherwise pristine wild space.
So we’ve decided to use this time for a major clean up.
Every month the Tongabezi Team take to the roadside, chatting and singing as they walk along and clean up our neighbourhood to make it safe for our wild neighbours and to ensure that it is beautiful for our future guests.
Kaya Mawa sits on a tiny gem of an island on a wide expanse of blue lake water. It is the perfect romantic and exclusive destination for guests looking to escape the world for a little while.
What this means for our community, however, is training and education is rarely accessible unless Green Safaris provides it.
So naturally, we do so as often as possible!
The team at Kaya Mawa were recently given an incredible opportunity to host four extremely talented craftsmen from the Netherlands. Didi, David, Koos, and Jamie came to hone our staff’s building and refurbishment skills.
The idea was for the craftsmen and our team to work together to ‘Greenify’ the Kaya Mawa interiors.
This way the Kaya Mawa crew will be able to maintain the soul of Kaya Mawa by focusing on sustainable design details, and has given them the chance to pick up useful and empowering skills on a personal level.
Guided by the experts, our team improved their plumbing skills and installed a new top feeding outlet for one of our rooms. It was an impressive team effort, combining David’s know-how with or staff’s eagerness to learn.
Didi guided our staff in an immense painting initiative, and they also trained under Koos, an expert carpenter who taught them new and creative ways to create remarkable handmade doors and windows for our rooms.
Finally, the plaster and concrete magician Jamie worked with the Kaya team to test out a few different ways to redo the floors in our rooms. The idea was to reduce the amount of concrete and other materials used in order to come up with the most sustainable solution possible, and they were very proud of the results.
In fact, we are proud of their entire Craftsmanship Class, all of whom graduated with new skills and a lot of newfound confidence in themselves.
It won’t stop growing!
A few years ago, Green Safaris Conservation Foundation helped with the creation of a community farm in Nalusanga which is right next to Kafue National Park. This farm is run by nine women and three men from the local area, providing several families with a livelihood in an otherwise vulnerable and poverty-stricken region.
In the past few years, the Ila Community Farm has been able to provide Ila Safari Lodge with a large amount of the vegetable supplies needed to feed our guests and team. The Farm is a complete success and doing exactly what it set out to do.
However, here at Green Safaris we do not believe in ‘good enough’. Our team wants to expand, not only to provide more lodges nearby with supplies, but also to become fully self-sustaining.
With this in mind, we decided to focus on a few key points:
And we came up with some fabulous solutions.
Firstly, our water efficiency will be increased step by step using a system called deep-pipe irrigation. We will collect recycled plastic bottles, fill them with rocks and drill tiny holes at different levels. Then we will bury them in the soil next to the vegetables. By filling them with the water and fertilizer, both reach the roots directly instead of evaporating.
We want the Ila Community Farm to be entirely organic, which means organic fertiliser. We also want it to be self-sustaining, which means making our own organic fertiliser.
Worm farms produce the richest organic fertiliser known to humans, so at Ila Farm we recently started with 1,000 worms in two large drums. As the worms start reproducing, the plan is to add more drums and use the worms for fishing at the lodges and chicken food. We may even sell some to other farmers nearby. Already other villagers want to know how it works and how they can make their own worm farm!
The worms need to be fed manure as well as partially decomposed vegetables, which they then turn into organic fertilizer.
Until recently we have been buying manure from other farmers, but this was getting in the way of the farm being entirely self-sustaining.
So now the Ila Community Farm has animals!
We have a fenced off area for our chickens and six pigs. The introduction of these animals is not just for meat and eggs, but also means that we can supply our own manure to the worms which means that our organic and liquid fertilizer is entirely homemade.
Below is Mary with very smelly, liquid fertilizer: half manure, the rest is water, wood ash, sugar and moringa leaves. Leave for three months, stirring once in a while, and you have very healthy liquid fertilizer that can be pored straight into the bottles!
Finally, we are aware that all of our marvellous achievements on the farm will mean very little if nobody wants to buy our vegetables.
We now have a brand-new parking area in order to encourage visitors to explore our gorgeous farm, and we have also created a lovely seating area under the shade so that buyers can sit whilst we pick their vegetables freshly for them.
After all of the dust has settled we do hope that you will visit the hardworking people at our community-led farm next to Kafue National Park and support them by having a taste of the vegetables of their labour.
In the community of Nalusanga, Green Safaris Conservation Foundation is also sponsoring the building of Lukanga Secondary School. Lukanga Primary School started several years back, and their first students are ready to go to secondary school next year. However, to get to the nearest secondary school, some students will have to walk for several hours. This can be discouraging and tiring, robbing them from their focus from actual learning. With Mr. Maimbo as a headteacher, this school has acquired a very good reputation and the building of a secondary school will help many students get the quality education they deserve.
Schools in Zambia are currently closed for an unknown period due to Corona. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as online education. The one advantage is that the teachers can now fully focus on building. The foundation for the school is there and they are currently working on the pillars that will hold the roof. The walls will be built with environmentally friendly sandbags, which will also keep the classrooms cooler in the hot season.
Hopefully these initiatives have made you feel a little bit better about the world we live in today. Wishing you all the strength and health from Zambia.