Ron & Anke Cowan started Kafunta Safaris over 20 years ago and have since supported a number of projects to help the local communities, starting with employment of course, and as part of Project Luangwa of which they are a founding member. In 2017, after consultations with the Head of the Malama they opened Three Rivers Camp, which is set on land owned by the Chief and his community. The benefits of a safari operation in their area are significant for the villagers, such as jobs, easier access to Mfuwe through road grading, and exposure. But there’s one thing Kafunta Safaris cannot do alone. The Malama community is about 70 km away from the general Mfuwe area (the hub of safari tourism). It is a harsh and unforgiving place to live. There is no accessible roads to get there, no public transport. During the dry season access is via rough tracks, and with a 4 x 4 vehicle only, but during the rains, which may last from November to March, the area is often inaccessible due to the many seasonal rivers.
There are roughly 100 households in the area which survive mostly by subsistence farming, a challenge of its own due to conflict with wildlife. For the children there is only one public primary school, Chilongozi Basic School.
The school teaches primary levels 1 to 7, as well as grades 8 and 9 of junior secondary (over 200 pupils). Most pupils come from great distances, too long (and too dangerous) for daily foot travel so many kids have no choice but to sleep in disused teachers’ houses, in deplorable conditions. They have to bring their own food, cook for themselves and only return home occasionally.
Sadly, the Chilongozi school is in such a poor state that the District Education Secretary is considering closing it unless something can be done to help, and soon. The roofs are leaking, there are cracks in the walls, some classrooms are already condemned as unsafe to use.
The future of the Malama children is at stake, if the school closes they won’t have any alternative. Kafunta Safaris has started a fundraiser to try and rebuild a school, at least a Three-classroom block. Their campaign is ambitious as an estimated GBP 55,000 will be needed. But it’s the condition to ensure the children of Malama a brighter future.
To make a donation or for instructions on how to, please visit www.projectluangwa.org/donate