Hut Building in Zambia
About the Project
Unearth the World (UTW) has partnered with a non-profit organization in Mwandi, a rural Zambian fishing village 2 hours drive from Livingstone. The project is focused on building homes for families affected by AIDS and promises an authentic African experience. In general, a large percentage of the middle generation in Mwandi have lost their lives due to the AIDS epidemic, leaving countless orphaned children. The elders in the village have selflessly incorporated these children into their own families. However, these larger families make the current housing difficult or impossible. In addition to being too small, the existing homes have grass roofs making them highly susceptible to fire since cooking is done indoors.
To solve these problems, the village chief called on an American woman (that married a local man) and has lived in Mwandi for many years. She formed a nonprofit that employed local staff and utilized international volunteers to build huts for these at-risk children and elderly. The results have begun to revolutionize the community. The financial donation from the volunteers allows for the purchase of higher quality materials for home building which has led to less fires. And the extra manpower provided by volunteers helps speed up construction and complete more homes. This project focuses on the building of safe, durable huts for the residents of Mwandi. Volunteers are also able to visit and help out at the village school and hospital.
Volunteers must be 18 years of age and undergo a background check.
Dates are flexible as volunteers are always welcomed to this project. Volunteers can spend anywhere from 1-12 weeks in Mwandi.
Accommodations and Meals
Volunteers will stay in a safe campsite run by the founder of the non-profit. They will sleep on beds in heavy duty tents with other volunteers. In addition to several large tents, the camp area includes a kitchen and dining area, outdoor showers, and flushing toilets. Volunteers will be provided 3 meals/day that are prepared by local Zambians. The delicious food varies from local specialties like nshima to American or British comfort food. Whatever you are eating, you are sure to be well fed and happy! Please let the UTW staff know if you have any dietary restrictions.
Volunteers will receive two orientations. The first is before you even leave home! Unearth the World staff will educate you about the country, customs, language, and project itself so you can have realistic expectations of your experience prior to your arrival. Read more about Unearth the World’s global service-learning training curriculum here. Once volunteers arrive in Zambia, the staff will provide another short orientation in order to acclimate you to your surroundings and give you guidance on the current needs of the project.
Zambia is a largely untouristed, landlocked country in East Africa. With its proximity to world-class sites like Victoria Falls and beautiful safari opportunities, Lonely Planet calls Zambia a “diamond in the rough” and a traveler’s chance to experience the “real” Africa.
Zambia has had a checkered past when it comes to economic stability. While reliant on the copper mining and agriculture industries, corruption and debt have kept the country from shining. Even though the World Bank named Zambia one of the world’s fastest economically reformed countries in 2010, Unicef reports that 69% of its residents are below the international poverty line of US $1.25 per day. 42% of these people live in extreme poverty.
In addition to economic strife, the country has been heavily impacted by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. It is estimated that over 12% of Zambians have AIDS and the UN believes that 670,000 children have been orphaned due to the disease. A volunteer trip to Zambia would undoubtedly be challenging, eye-opening and rewarding
Typical Volunteer Schedule
The daily and weekly schedule will vary for volunteers depending on their length of stay and timing of their trip. However, each day you spend in Zambia will have a similar basic structure:
- 7:30 am – 8:00 am: Wake-up and help yourself to breakfast
- 8:00 am – 12:00 am: Depart camp and drive with staff to work site. Activities can include transporting materials, constructing, mudding, smoothing, or finishing huts.
- 12:00 am – 1:00 pm: Lunch back at camp and downtime
- 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm: Depart camp and finish daily work at site.
- 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm: Down time
- 6:00 pm – Bed: Dinner followed by free time to relax, enjoy the nightly campfire, and build relationships with fellow volunteers and staff.
Typical volunteer week
Weekly schedules vary depending on how long you are staying and your travel desires. Most volunteers will volunteer on weekdays and are free to relax in the village or travel on the weekends to nearby destinations like Livingstone to see Victoria Falls. The non-profit founder also leads short safari experiences in nearby Botswana. This can be an added option if the volunteer is interested.
At Unearth the World, we pride ourselves on being financially transparent so the volunteer can understand exactly where their money is going. We have two different types of fees: a one-time application fee and general project fees.
Application Fee – $300 (USD)
This is the only money that goes towards Unearth the World. This application fee includes the matching of the volunteer candidate with the international program, volunteer education and orientation, an information packet on volunteer program and country of travel, 24/7 support from UTW staff, program marketing costs, travel costs to inspect programs and communication costs with volunteer.
General Project Fees – Vary Based on Length of Stay
At the Zambia project, these fees go towards accommodations, food, and in-country transportation. Part of the fee is also a donation to the non-profit that is used to purchase hut building supplies and pay local staff. The fees are broken down on a daily basis:
- Transportation: $5/day
- Food: $8/day
- Housing: $5/day
- Salaries for local staff: $7/day
- Building materials: $10/day
- Total: $35/day