Hey Magickal ones, Shelby here! This past summer of 2022 my family and I went to Zambia to volunteer. My daughter and I spent our days teaching in the primary school while my husband worked construction & building, helping clear fields and build a wall. While there, we learned so much about the life & culture of the Zambian people. First and foremeost, they are the kindest & most giving people we have ever encountered. They are always smiling and saying "Welcomet to Zambia! You are most welcome here!" We fell in love with the culture immediately.
We knew when we planned the trip that we wanted to go with an open mind and see how we could be of service. We have traveled quite extensively in our 17 years together, often to developing countries, & have become very aware of our privilege as American citizens. This trip was to be one of learning and developing a strategy to help.
After a few weeks in Livingstone, we learned there is corruption in some of the international volunteer programs. While good intended volunteers arrived ready to work, they were often tricked into giving money or goods to program heads that did not directly benefit the children or students they presented.
It was with this knowledge that we left the program and set out to find our own ways to contribute.
One of our favrorite travel past times is finding the local markets and searching for the perfect souveniour to bring back and display in our home. We love conversation pieces, things that are handmade and unique to where we visited. African markets did not dissapoint. From beautiul carved bowls to bright fabrics & freshly painted art; it was clear we were amongst talented artisans.
At the same time, we were meeting locals and learning about the in's and out's of Zambian life. Our daughter, Saylor, had become friends with the girl next door to the volunteer housing and she had been spending all of her off time with us. She told us about her and her sister, Mary, their life and their schooling. Both girls are teenagers and they have a smaller brother, Philip. (6) Their father passed away a few years back and their mother has breast cancer. When we went to their home to meet their mother we were greeted into their small space with smles and embraces.
Their home is not unlike many in the area; created from stone with no windows, dirt flooring, no plumbing or electricity. The family of 5 all slept on one small mattress on the floor. Food is cooked outside and nature is the restroom. It is enough to live, but we wanted to offer them more.
In speaking with the daughters we learned that college is out of the question for most Zambian girls. The average family makes 1000-2000 Kwacha per month and schooling can average 14,000 per year. When I asked what they would study if they could go to school, they both lit up and said "doctors!" Doctors in the area can make upwards of 22,000 Kwacha per month, supporing themselves well and their extended family. I asked the girls what they will do after high school if they do not go to college and they both said "we will have to have babies." Security can be found other ways, it seems.
With this knowledge, we struck a deal with the mother. We told her we would provide them with adequate housing, in the same school district the kids currently attend in, and give a stipend for food and necessities. The deal is that the girls must pass their testing and qualify for college. These girls are so incredibly intelligent, they are already recieving high marks in all of their studies. Once they are of age to go to college, we agreed that we would fund it.
So that was it. We found who we wanted to help in the Zambian girls and we also found our first two benefactors. We found them a home, furnished it, got them cell phones so we could keep in touch and moved them in.
This is where the work has started, and it took us back to the market & back to our local Zambian friends. We needed a "man on the ground" and found him in our friend Jimmy. His local connections help us to partner with artisans and crafters who could use a place to sell their wares. We have that platform in Tamed Wild.
So here we are, at the beginning of what we hope to build into a large collection that changes the lives of ambitous women in developing countries. We are starting with Africa, who knows where we will go to next.
In full transparency, here is a breakdown of how the profits will be spent and whom they are helping. This blog category will be updated as things develop and progress:
USD to Zambian Kwacha conversion: $1 to 15.66 (at time of writing)
2800K/$175 = Housing for Family
1000K/$62= Food for Family of 5
85k/$5= Cell Phones Monthly
510/$30= Electricity Monthly
306/$18= Water Monthly
1000/$62= Transportation, Medical, Misc
2000/$124= Jimmy Wage
These are the fixed monthly expenses of the Africa program at this time. There are variable expenses in the way of shipping & of course product purchasing.
The goal of the program is to provide education expenses for African girls who are coming of age to attend college. This will include all expenses needed while in school, including dorm living if needed. We will not be providing housing for all the families as part of the program as we did with this first famiily, as our goal is to help them gain the tools to become self sufficient. This family in particular hold a place in our hearts and we feel as they are our family as well.
We are currently in the beginning stages of contacting the local high schools to reach other girls who need assistance.
So in short, all sales from this collection are directly supporting the artisan who made them, our team in Africa who are now working with us, the family mentioned above and education expenses for girls to attend college. Your purchase is literally changing lives.
So there it is, out in the universe and ready to be manifested. ✨ Thank you for reading and we appreciate you so much.
Shop the collection here!