Written by Zambia intern, Hayley Willis
I came to Livingstone initially for 6 months not knowing what I would find in a country I’d never been to and a charity I didn’t yet know much about. I was excited and I was nervous, but I hadn’t even begun to imagine what an amazing experience this would be.
Yes I was living in a beautiful setting almost a stones throw away from one of the 7 natural wonders of the world with wild African animals roaming around, but that isn’t what I have found most special in my time here. The people are truly inspiring and welcoming. I have had the opportunity to get to know several locals incredibly well and their stories and their attitude to life is humbling. They welcomed me into their lives and I will always be so grateful for that.
I was unlucky enough to spend a little bit of time in hospital here and I was touched by how many of my new friends came to offer their love and support. The cooks and cleaner at work, the security guards, the women from projects, my favourite taxi drivers, even friends of friends I had never met came to offer support. It was really overwhelming and although I had always felt like these people were kind and generous it really opened my eyes to how truly amazing my friends here are. At that point I refused to leave and arranged to stay an extra month as I didn’t even want to think about having to say goodbye.
So now after 7 months I am leaving Zambia. I will be sad to say goodbye to so many people I have come to care about, and I will miss the laughter and the craziness with all the children, but I can leave feeling as though I have made a small difference to the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in Livingstone. This is through working in a team to set up a Girl Empowerment project which although new is already showing a visible difference in the women and girls involved.
I have had the opportunity to work on the Sponsor a Child program to help empower children by giving them education. I have had the chance to set up a new project to empower an entire community at Linda Farm. I have fundraised, I have taught, and I have listened and created a therapeutic childcare workshop. One of my favourite activities was actually a small community choir I set up on the weekends for some local children. By the end there were 30 children in the choir, some drummers, and a photographer. My Sunday mornings will seem so quiet without them.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who made my time here so incredible, and to the business manager for giving me the freedom and knowledge to follow my passions while I have been here. This internship experience has truly been one of a kind.