In Botswana, the small population is supported by a government that has done well using diamond profits to provide free education and healthcare to all 2.2M citizens. Zambian people have not had the same luck.
Livingstone is known as the tourist town, and is largely supported by the tourism industry. Our hotel in particular, has been created largely to support the local villages. Profits have been used to build a school that grows by a grade level each year. Children age 3-8 walk up to 3k every morning to attend, believing strongly that education is their way out of poverty. In the coming years, the hotel hopes to pay the bill for any student who wants to continue their education into high school or college.
The hotel also supports the local villages by hiring locally. The boat driver at the hotel shows us his home in the village and introduces us to his wife and family. His salary, he tells us, supports 30 members of the village. It had also been enough to pay the lobola (dowry) for his wife – a common practice in Southern Africa where the eldest uncle determines how many cows his niece is worth.
After hearing about the poverty in Zambia and visiting craft markets where people asked to trade goods for our used socks, it felt like one of the few true solutions to a more systemic problem: education and opportunity.