Written by our Livingstone Intern, Zoe Chambers
5 months, 72 volunteers and 4 countries later and my time as the Happy Africa Foundation intern in Livingstone, Zambia has come to an end. It seems like a century ago that I first waved goodbye at Heathrow Airport, England and set off for the adventure of a lifetime. Going to live for half a year in a town I’ve never heard of previously in a country 5000 miles from home was one of the scariest things I’ve had to do to date, and I’ve done the bungee jump but it has been the most incredible thing I’ve ever done. With Victoria Falls, or the smoke that thunders as it is locally know, thundering (funnily enough) in the background, the mist exploding across the horizon it has been an honour to call Livingstone my home.
My first ‘wow, I live here’ moment was a couple of weeks in whilst visiting the falls. We were given the opportunity to stay after closing to watch the sun set. Hiking down to boiling pot, at the bottom of the falls, we climbed into one of the mini tributaries cascading down the rocks and watched as the sun slowly disappeared behind the famous bridge and then below the horizon. Ever since then it has been one breathtaking experience after another, watching baboons run across hotel tables, swimming in the Zambezi River just after crocodile sightings, dancing and singing round a campfire after being told traditional Zambian stories and laying on a white sand beach in the middle of a gorge with no one around but us, staring up at a million stars on a beautifully clear night. The fact that Zambia borders 8 countries meant that I have had the chance to have a sneak peak at a few other countries in this part of the world as well. Walking lions and getting soaked again and again by the falls in Zimbabwe, seeing thousands upon thousands of elephants in Botswana and running down sand dunes in the oldest desert in the world whilst visiting Namibia. There are not many jobs that can boast that as one of their perks.
The internship itself is so diverse I do not even know where to start with the things I have done. From writing progress reports and articles, going out into the communities and interviewing people we are directly impacting to organizing an Alice in Wonderland themed fundraiser. There is so much variety in the position and you never know what will happen each day. I might be sorting through some donations when all of a sudden Memory, our project co-ordinator, has decided we are off on another adventure to visit the Ministry of Education or check up on the hospital we are building or watch water erupt from underground in a huge fountain as a borehole at a school is being dug as children shriek, running around in the excitement of it all.
Finally we come to the people. What can I say about them? To say I will miss them is the understatement of the century. Meeting people from all around the world and becoming so close to them, only for them to leave again was so tough, stupid volunteers, but I’ve always had the Zambian staff to pick me up again. From dancing with Priscilla, one of our chefs, in the kitchen to singing with Memory and Sharon in the office and on our road trips, I can’t even begin to list all the people that I hate to leave. It has been an incredible experience both career wise and everything else and as scary as it was coming here, I think the thought of having to leave scares me even more. I feel so privileged to have been a part of such an amazing team, in such an amazing community and I just hope I’ve positively impacted them even a tiny bit as much as they have me.
Goodbye Livingstone. Until we meet again…