Visit Victoria Falls in Zambia as a responsible traveler – and while you’re there, lend a hand as a volunteer! From projects that have you teaching at a rural village with International Volunteer HQ, to shadowing medical professionals at hospitals with Love Volunteers, to romping with chimpanzees at Chimfunshi with African Impact, you’ll have tons of possibilities to plan an amazing African adventure.
As a volunteer traveler in Zambia, you’ll gain valuable insight into global issues while giving individual attention to people and animals in need. Some of the shocking statistics from Zambia focus on its health crisis: more than 1.2 million people there live with HIV, yet fewer than half understand the illness and how to prevent it. As a volunteer, you can make a difference in this country’s health sector.
In addition to health care, you can provide educational support when you volunteer as a tutor or to help teachers in their classrooms. Many schools in rural Zambia suffer from a shortage of resources and formally trained educators, resulting in a “hot-seating” system that only allows children to attend school part-time. Some families can’t afford the school fees, so their children can’t complete primary education.
Wildlife also suffers in Zambia – most notably chimpanzees. Adult chimps are targeted as bushmeat by poachers, leaving the infants unprotected. You can help at a chimpanzee sanctuary, interacting with the primates and inventing social enrichment activities that are fun and encourage socializing.
Whatever project you choose, your time in Zambia will be gratifying and can make a long-lasting contribution to the betterment of this nation.
But it’s not all work! Since you’ll be at Victoria Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you can add weekend adventure trips to your itinerary, or travel around the area before or after your volunteer placement. Between guided safaris, hiking, whitewater rafting, and bungee jumping, you’ll have no shortage of amazing places to see.
A Little About Zambia
The Republic of Zambia is a landlocked country, located in southern Africa. Its capital is Lusaka, but most programs you’ll find in this article are located in Livingstone, a small city on the border of Zimbabwe. Zambia became an independent nation in 1964 and is governed as a unitary presidential republic. Its official language is English.
Historically, Zambia was settled by the hunter-gathering people known as the Khoisan until AD 300, when the Bantu migrated into the area. Throughout the next millennia, other tribes migrated into the region, and kingdoms were established. The Portuguese explorer Francisco de Lacerda was the first European to lead an expedition in Zambia, claiming it for Portugal.
Zambia’s most prominent early visitor was Scottish explorer and missionary David Livingstone, who hoped to end the slave trade through the “3 Cs“: Christianity, Commerce, and Civilization. He was the first European recorded to see Victoria Falls, and he named it for his monarch, Queen Victoria, in 1855. The British South Africa Company, led by Cecil Rhodes, purchased mineral rights from the Lozi people in 1888. Copper was discovered, which eventually resulted in the establishment of British Colonial rule and the naming of the country Northern Rhodesia. Independence from Great Britain came after a campaign spearheaded by Harry Nkumbula of the African National Congress (ANC), with help later from Kenneth Kaunda of the United National Independence Party (UNIP).
Until the mid-19th century, Zambian people lived in independent tribes, with unique cultural identities. British rule resulted in the urbanization of the region with many ethnic groups moving into cities and influencing each other. There is a movement to introduce what is now called “Zambian culture” into the rural villages, which could diminish traditional cultures. You can still see many of these traits in ceremonies, pottery, basketry, wood carvings, and copper crafts.
Zambia made sports history in 1964 when it declared its independence on the day of the closing ceremony of the Summer Olympics. It became the first country to enter the games as one country, and then leave it as another.
Explore a few unique volunteer programs in Zambia and start planning your itinerary today!