Several of our projects have been provided with basic infrastructure and are working well. The next step in many areas is to elevate the skill level in many sectors across a wide range from advanced farming techniques (organic pesticides and fertizilier, crop rotation and planning of planting cycles), financial management (book keeping, accounting and re-investment of profits), human resources management and motivation (which can become quite complex with large cooperatives), marketing (identifying and developing local and urban markets), and general business skills. Consistent training and oversight is essential to maximise the long term success and ensure the sustainability of the projects. Most co-op members have little education (some are illiterate) and though enthusiastic and hard working, have little idea of how to run a business, keep accounts or do long term planning. Many have never had cash in their lives and have lived entirely on subsistence agriculture and fishing. None have had to deal with climate change and unreliable rains until the last few years.
We are frequently approached by various Zambian organisations asking us if they can assist in some way. They offer many training opportunities in many sectors but up to now we have had to turn these offers down as we had no place to house volunteers. Thanks to a visit by Gloria Steinem, Amy Richards and their friends, a group of incredibly dynamic American women, we now are in the process of building a volunteer house to accommodate volunteers. Their support in this effort makes it possible for us to engage volunteers from Zambia and others from abroad.
The building was designed by highly regarded architect Jonas von Studnitz. Jonas initially visited the area on safari with EXPLORE with his wife Tori and their two boys who undertook the refurbishment of two of our chicken projects. Jonas created the design for these coops and he and his family rebuilt much of the structures. They were very moved by the experience with the village people and approached us and asked if they could assist in any further projects. Once we realized Jonas was a fantastic architect we asked him to design the volunteer house. It is located in a small village close to Chiawa in a beautiful wooded area. Harriet Museto, a co-op leader, kindly donated the land for the house. She will be in charge of the day to day running of the volunteer house. Harriet is a member of one of our poultry projects, Simbarashe, and heads up our first restaurant. She is a fantastic person with a heart of gold.