We are a small charity that supports community and conservation projects in South Luangwa, Zambia

Bringing a smile to Zambia

Jojo in Zambia

Here Jov tells us in her own words of her experiences living and working in Zambia.

“At the age of 19, whilst studying zoology at Imperial College London, I took a working summer holiday to Zambia helping researchers carry out vegetation surveys in South Luangwa National Park. Whilst I was staying there one of the lodges, very kindly, let me camp for a really good price in exchange for helping them out in the evenings hostessing and catering. During my stay, their manager had to take an unexpected holiday and they asked if I would take over the kitchen and restaurant while he was away. To keep it short, I did, and loved it and as I had already fallen in love with Africa, when the lodge offered me a full time job for the next year, I left university and moved out to Zambia. That was the start of my 6 years living in South Luangwa. These six years have given me more experience and knowledge about wildlife, Africa and people than any university course I could have done.

Zambia is still the jewel of Africa in my mind. I was doing everything rolled into one. Cooking and looking after clients whilst surrounded by incredible wildlife and fascinating and charming people.

After four years of 5am starts and 10pm finishes, I moved to a friends textile work shop. The most colourful and vibrant place, still in South Luangwa, employing over 150 local villagers and training them as painters, sewers, artists, colour mixers, and office assistants. I started as Export and Personnel Manager which gave me a whole new side to working in Zambia. For the last few years, my African experience had been in the business of wildlife and now (on the personnel side of my job), I was in the business of learning about the African culture, and I really did learn a lot. Obviously, in personnel you have to be sensitive to the culture and ideas of the people you are employing and this was probably the most eye opening and valuable experience of my whole stay in Zambia. In the western world we have a real tendency to look on the Africans as lacking or behind us somehow because we are looking at it from a material aspect. However, the Africans work differently and their attitude and outlook on life is something we in the west should learn from. They are abundant in qualities that we seem to forget but can benefit enormously from.

Zambia is a country of excitement, beauty, some of the best game you will see and wonderful people. Not to mention all the adventures that comes with being in a place like Zambia. The great thing about Africa is that whatever situation or problem you find yourself in, there is always someone on hand to help. A number of times, I broke down on the way home late at night. Being in the bush there are no street lamps, shops, petrol stations etc but lots of elephants, hippos, lions etc so it is always advisable to try any other means, besides walking at night, to get home. I soon learnt that whistling or calling out for assistance soon led to someone appearing from nowhere to give you a hand and on a few occasions, giving you a ‘backy’ on their bike for at least 4kms, to fetch more fuel, and then cycling you all the way back again.”

“In Zambia you will fall in love with the animals and the people and will always want to go back”

Plaque laid in Luangwa Valley in memory of Jojo

In 2009 we placed a plaque in Jojo’s favourite place, Elephant Loop, in her memory.

Herman, Jojo’s surrogate Dad in Africa, hand carved this wonderful piece of Leadwood, one of Africa’s hardest and long lasting trees and Patsy organised the brass plaque to go on it. It took a long time and much organising through the authorities to obtain the permission.

It is a beautiful and perfect spot on the river bank in the National Park of South Luangwa. Every night the elephants come to cross the river to feed and pass this magical place.

The plaque reads:

We remember you in the sunsets and the sunrise,
You are our Africa, Our Faith,
Our strength to believe forever