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

Bringing a smile to Zambia

Jojo’s Story

Jojo was born on the 18th February 1978. From a very young age, Jojo was fascinated by wildlife, on land and in the ocean. Having spent time working with dolphins in the Florida Keys in her late teens, she made the decision to study marine biology for which she needed to undertake a foundation course in science in Cornwall. Whilst there, at the age of 19, Jojo was diagnosed with a malignant melanoma tumour.

Demonstrating the tremendous courage, positivity and calm that Jojo never ceased to amaze people with, she had an operation to remove the tumour, and, as if nothing had happened, continued to live life to the full and work hard at her studies and achieved excellent grades. These, combined with her charm and charisma, opened the doors to Imperial College, London, one of the world’s most highly respected educational institutions.

Jojo travelled to Africa in 1999 on holiday, and so began her love affair with this magical continent. A year later, she travelled to Zambia on a vegetation research trip. Here she found her spiritual home, and left Imperial College knowing that she didn’t need a degree to achieve her dream of living and working in the wild.

Finding work in the beautiful safari lodges was never a problem with Jojo’s excellent catering skills, and in the same year began managing the kitchens at Wildlife Camp in Mfuwe.

She moved on to help run the Kulefu Camp and in 2003 joined Tribal Textiles, a company exporting hand painted fabrics. The Malimba Community School Fund that Make Me Smile fundraises for was created after the local community went to Tribal Textiles for assistance in making the dream of education for their children a reality.

One of Jojo’s most impressive achievements was producing a high profile pop concert in Zambia, to raise AIDS awareness and funding for the school. Jojo continued to fundraise for and support the school right up until the end of 2007, selling Christmas cards back in England that had been designed by the children.

Sadly, another tumour was diagnosed in September 2005. Jojo did not feel that surgery was the path to take on this occasion, having had two previous operations which had proved unsuccessful. She began to thoroughly research cancer and discovered just how closely chemicals in everyday products and our diet are related to the illness. This led Jojo to the Gerson therapy, a treatment for cancer based on chemical free and organic living. She travelled to Mexico with her mother, Jacqui, to begin treatment in March 2006.

Many cancer patients have been cured following the Gerson therapy, however Jojo eventually decided that this was not the way she wanted to tackle her illness or live her life.

Through profound philosophical questioning, Jojo found Christian Science. Her faith fortified her naturally harmonious and peaceful soul and she continued to love the life she lived.

In April 2008, Jojo was diagnosed with a brain tumour. Fearless and determined to beat it, she calmly soldiered on. After slipping into a coma 6 weeks later, she passed away, in her family home, on the 8th July 2008.

Jojo’s bravery, positivity and zest for life were grounded in her knowledge that true contentment comes from bringing happiness to others. She brought light into the lives of everyone she met, and through Make Me Smile and the children of Malimba Community School this light will continue to shine.