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

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Zambian Tales

Current news from Malimba School & Conservation South Luangwa SPRING 2022

Dear Make Me Smile Supporters

Despite the dark news from Ukraine we wanted to share some stories of hope and positivity from our projects in Zambia. This year has seen severe flooding, adding to the huge challenges that Covid brought. The local economy has suffered, with tourist numbers dwindling to a virtually nothing, safari lodges and Tribal Textiles were forced to lay off staff. Less money circulating increases hardship and currently the valley is extremely quiet. The hope is that things will get busier as the year progresses. Thankfully, despite a high number of Covid cases locally, the current strain is producing mild symptoms and vaccinations are freely available.

Regular donations however small really help us to provide more reliable fund, please visit our website for more information


Sadly our headmistress Ezeliya, lost her sister recently, so she has been dealling with all that is required when you lose a close family member. We send our deepest condolences.

Malimba School re-opened on the 24th January, later than usual due to increased Covid rates in some parts of Zambia. The first day, very few pupils attended but on the 25th a large influx of children arrived at Malimba, increasing numbers from last year from 433 to 482. The schools good reputation is beginning to grow and Malimba is now attracting pupils from further afield. The entire grade 7 took their examinations with only 3 reports of disappointing grades. This reflects so positively on all the teaching staff under the leadership of Ezeilya. The teachers were forced to take a take a pay cut in pay during Covid but it is hoped that this can be reversed over the coming months.

Ezeilya continues to encourage the children to take an interest in the natural world and learn the value of trees to our environment. As you will see from CSL’s blog below, deforestation is a big issue in Zambia. The majority of the rural population rely on firewood and charcoal for their cooking and heating so it’s important that the children learn how to take care of forests and plant more trees for the future.

Ezeilya has ambitious plans for the school and you can be sure that any donations will be put to good use. The introduction of electricity would allow better lighting and enable use of a printer for producing exam papers. The children are keen to build there IT skills but without electricity the school cannot support this. Of course lack of electricity also links to the deforestation which we spotlight later in our newsletter.


Ezeliya’s lessons on valuing nature are all the more poignant when you read an excerpt of the blog below written in September of 2021 by CSL-ZCP pilot, Les Dillard documenting his work in the Luangwa Valley


I am fortunate enough to see our beautiful area from the air on a near-daily basis and have a unique perspective on what is happening on a landscape scale. Since I arrived in 2017, I have been concerned about rapid, excessive forest destruction in the Kakumbi area for wood planks, charcoal, and firewood. From what I can see from the air and on the ground, the rate and extent of tree cutting/burning seems to be increasing.

During a recent flight along the Matizye River, I counted not less than 12 actively burning or recently used large charcoal pits as well as several large piles of freshly cut planks, lots of burned trees, and more than 6 active saw pits. In addition, each morning while driving to work, I often count more than 50 wood collectors and numerous bicycles heading into the forest to collect large bundles of wood.

Colleagues of mine have counted more than 80 collectors on certain days, and if we estimate that each collector’s bundle is at least 20kg and each bicycle load is at least 30kg, then we are witnessing around 2 metric tons of wood leaving the Kakumbi forests every day! This is just from what we can observe on the road without a proper study. The actual amount of daily wood extraction must be much higher. Although only down wood is legally allowed to be collected, I have seen and heard trees which are still standing being chopped down.

If our forested areas decrease in size and quality, this poses all kinds of cascading environmental effects including loss of habitat for birds and mammals as well as decreased aesthetic value. As forests become more open, the loss of shade leads to hotter, drier, dustier conditions and the smoke from charcoal and tree burning decreases our air quality dramatically. We need to protect these forests as they are the root of our community’s tourism-based economy.

So far in September, I have been able to fly with HRH Chief Kakumbi, 2 representatives from Kakumbi CRB (board chairperson and chair for natural resources), 3 representatives from the Forestry Department (district and provincial levels), and the Area Warden from the Department of National Parks and Wildlife. I am happy that I can share what I am seeing from the air with stakeholders. Seeing it in person is much more effective that a picture or a report or a map (although those are helpful, too!). Everyone who has flown with me has been very surprised to see the extent and intensity of tree cutting and charcoal making. I hope this spreading awareness and concern can lead to better community-driven management of our forest resources.

In the meantime, CSL in conjunction with the Kakumbi CRB has visited many of these areas on the ground to see what is happening. Several trucks full of illegally-made planks have been confiscated and illegal wood-cutters are starting to fear being caught. I am hopeful that there is momentum behind all of our combined efforts that will put in place more effective systems of forest resource management.


With grateful thanks to you, our supporters, who make progress and improvements possible
Jacqui and the Make Me Smile Team