Project Luangwa: Empowering Communities through Tourism
In Mfuwe, the sounds of daily life compete against the wild bush, with the entrance to South Luangwa National Park only 5 minutes away. So, it’s quite likely you will hear a lion’s throaty roar as children play in the yard while Project Luangwa’s craft team make their way to work.
Project Luangwa Aims
Project Luangwa has two main aims:
- improving education, and
- promoting an equal future for young girls and women.
In order to achieve these aims, Project Luangwa began making washable menstrual hygiene, or “Ufulu”, pads in 2010. Insufficient access to safe hygiene supplies was a significant barrier to girls attending school, and by providing pads, it is estimated that girls can gain up to 50 days of school per year.
Making pads necessitated training local men and women how to sew. With these skills, the team could start making items for sale, such as bags, clothing, and other textiles. At the same time, local artisans also came forward, keen to have a platform to sell their creations. These include specialised ‘junk art’, wickerwork and hand-carved wooden bowls, toys and decorations.
Project Luangwa currently has a team of 28 staff, with more craftspeople and artisans contributing items for sale. For those, Project Luangwa takes a 20% commission to put back into the projects, while the remaining 80% goes directly back to the artisan. Not only does this give a sustainable wage, but it also provides critical funding to all of Project Luangwa’s work within schools and communities.
So what are those other projects that the shop supports? On top of improving hygiene for girls, Project Luangwa assists 25 schools through various ways, such as building and infrastructure, safe space meetings and clubs, and education programmes using digital technology. It also sponsors hundreds of children through school and tertiary education and works to promote better health and prevent deforestation through its fuel-efficient eco-stove programme.
Project Luangwa Location
The Project Luangwa space is set right on the main road between the airport and the National Park. With a bright, welcoming interior and a café that features a blend of modern design with traditional values, it is a must-see for visitors to the valley. In addition, guests can witness Project Luangwa’s crafts team hard at work behind the scenes, making items for sale in the shop.
Project Luangwa Cafe and Shop
For local visitors, items can also be made to order, and the shop also sells beautiful chitenge material, which can then be made into a variety of fun and memorable keepsakes or clothing.
The café sells a selection of delicious salads and sandwiches and can make fresh tea and coffee to enjoy sitting in or takeaway. For the early birds, you can also relax with a hot butter croissant while soaking in the sounds and sights of Mfuwe life.