This weekend was really amazing. On Friday we left for Livingstone, an 8-9 hour drive. Unlike some of my more adventurous counterparts, I didn’t go skydiving, but Victoria Falls was beautiful. We ate at an awesome Italian restaurant that gives all of its proceeds to supporting vulnerable children, and went to high tea at the Royal Livingstone Hotel. We all felt super classy.
Today, it was back to service learning at Vision of Hope. We’ve managed to sell fifteen rugs to the group so far, and are hoping to sell a few more before we leave. 40% of the proceeds go directly to the girl who made each rug, and the additional 60% go back into the organization so they can sustain future IGAs. The great thing about this project is that they use scraps from fabric shops to make each rug, so they are made at very little cost. When we were thinking about ideas with strong revenue potential, we thought of notebooks because making paper has no cost, and the fabric we are using to bind the notebooks is also very inexpensive. Each notebook costs about two kwacha to make, but can be sold for thirty-five, which gives us really strong profit margins.
While we were gone over the weekend, the girls made eighty-two pieces of paper. Some of them had holes in them or were too thick, but with what we had we were able to make our first two notebooks today. The girls were really excited, and the notebooks look great. With the first notebook the girls made today, we are going to print pictures we have taken of the girls and paste them into it so we can give them something to remember their experience by. I think they are really going to like it, and it will be a good reminder for how far they’ve come.
It was awesome to see our project coming together, and I really hope the girls are able to sell these notebooks successfully at markets. Already, everybody in our group wants at least a few, and we have promised to buy as many as they can make by this Friday. I really hope I can return to Zambia in a few years and see how far Vision of Hope has come. This is probably the most positive experience I have ever had working for an NGO, and it has made me really want to pursue a career in NGO consulting or with a foundation.