Dusty roads, mangoes dropping overhead, the spray of Victoria Falls acting like a beacon – welcome to Livingstone, Zambia. I’ve been lucky enough to call this amazing tourist destination home for the past six months while being an Intern with the Happy Africa Foundation.
I took the Internship on hoping to challenge myself, learn about NGO management, and rediscover my passion for work. What I gained was so much more as I was witness to amazing achievements, inspirational stories, and created lifelong friendships. Working with an NGO also provides great perspective and grounding which will hold me in good stead for future jobs.
Beyond the mask of mass-tourism Livingstone wears, lies the compounds with elements of poverty and vulnerability. It’s a transient town where people are chasing opportunity with hope in their eyes. Working with the Happy Africa Foundation, alongside our partners African Impact, the influence of projects is easily evident in both their sustainability and community impact. Our Linda Clinic expansion project has sprung to life in front of my eyes with the walls being completed to the three ward hospital during my time. Soon the roof will be built, moving us one step further to providing Livingstone with a second hospital and improving the accessibility to adequate healthcare for thousands of community members.
The Internship offers huge variety. One day I’d be in the office balancing finances and the next day I’d be out at Mwandi building. The Internship opens up the operations and project management side of an NGO while also being hands on in a number of community projects. I’ve worked closely with the Happy Africa Foundation team, both on the ground in Livingstone and in head office in Cape Town, to ensure we create awareness and accountability towards our projects.
The highlight of my Internship was completing the 50 Challenges in 50 Days fundraiser. The support on the ground and abroad, as I ate chicken eyes, had my chest waxed, and went on a 50 hour famine, was amazing. The fundraiser also tied in with a larger global fundraiser where we were able to fund the re-commencement of building at Zambezi Sawmills School constructing a security wall adding to the goal of improving the school to a Basic School making it eligible for Government funding.
Beyond work, Livingstone provides an amazing backdrop to call home. The accessibility to the rest of Southern Africa is unmatched as I was within two hours of safari in Botswana, three hours of a kayaking adventure in Namibia, and able to walk across the border to Zimbabwe. Elephants are a constant road hazard, I’ve stood within 10 metres of a rhino, and been chased in a kayak by hippos. Victoria Falls is the central attraction though and nothing can prepare you for the sheer power and force of the smoke that thunders.
My Internship with the Happy Africa Foundation has been an amazing adventure that went above and beyond my expectations. I’ve gained skills, perspective, and memories that will last a lifetime!
About the author
Sam Aldridge is from Ardrossan, South Australia and has travelled extensively around the world. He took a break from his career in Australia to intern with The Happy Africa Foundation in Africa for six months in 2014. You can follow his worldwide adventures on Twitter.