At Unearth the World (UTW) we specialize in pairing volunteers with grassroots organizations creating real change in their communities around the world. We are thorough in our research to select partner organizations that are reputable, ethical, and able to provide both volunteers and beneficiaries of the services with a meaningful experience that breaks down cultural barriers and makes impact.
We are thrilled to work with such amazing partners and to be able to support them in whatever capacity they request. This post is the third in a series of articles that highlight our international partner organizations. We are fortunate to witness the important work and tangible results that our partners make every day and are so excited to share their mission and impact with you.
Today we are honored to showcase Unearth the World’s first partner organization and tell you about what it is like to volunteer in Zambia. Located in the 8,000 person fishing village of Mwandi, this non-profit organization works with the local community on a variety of projects to improve conditions for the people there, especially children who have been orphaned by the AIDS epidemic. This partner taught founders – Kathryn and Mike Pisco – about how community partnerships can lead to tangible impact! (For more on this and what chocolate has to do with it, read on.)
This Zambian nonprofit works with people of all ages and even welcomes student and corporate groups throughout the year! As a volunteer in Zambia, participants generally work on the main housing project which involves constructing homes for local families, especially those with disabilities, those who have taken in orphaned children, and others in need. Most families in Mwandi live in mud brick homes with roofs made of grass, which are prone to leaks and deterioration, especially during rainy season. Under the supervision of local program staff, volunteers work side by side with community members to build new homes with metal roofs, which are more resilient to the elements and last much longer.
As of October 2016, over 160 homes had been constructed, with that number continually rising with each volunteer that visits. The donations raised by volunteers are used to purchase sustainable building materials and fund other projects by the organization. Volunteers also have the opportunity to work on medical projects at the nearby hospital (given proper qualifications) or on field missions to more remote areas.
A recent addition to this partner’s programs is Aunt Beanor’s Community Pre-School, which officially opened last May in a restored building on the nonprofit’s property. Prior to moving operations to this building, Aunt Beanor (a local teacher in Mwandi – pictured on the right) was teaching preschool from her home in the village. Currently the program is for children ages three to six, with three classes offered per day. But recent high demand has necessitated the building of new classrooms. As of June, the construction of a third classroom was nearing completion, and a second classroom was complete and fully outfitted with new desks. The organization has received word from the Zambian Department of Education that they would like to see the school expand up to second grade in the future, with plans to potentially open at the beginning of next year. Volunteers are always welcome to engage with the school and/or offer donations for supplies and continued operations.
This partner highlight is especially exciting for us to share because Unearth the World is gearing up to lead a group of female travelers from Wanderful – an innovative online community of independent, adventurous, women who travel – on the Zambian adventure of a lifetime. These Wanderful women will volunteer in Zambia starting at the end of THIS WEEK by working with the community to build sustainable homes. While in Mwandi, this group will interact with community members, visit the preschool and discuss local issues. The ladies will also have to chance to see the sites of south central Africa by going on a safari in Botswana and visiting Victoria Falls (one of the Seven Wonders of the World). We are excited to be able to partner with this amazing network of women by providing them with trip programming, reflection opportunities and support.
Interested in learning more about our partner? Excited to volunteer in Zambia? Check out our information page for details!
Other reads about this Zambian nonprofit: