This past June, artist Marlene Kort and her family visited Zambia, Africa.Â Zambia is a beautiful and peaceful country and home to some of the best game parks in the world.Â They were excited to visit their oldest daughter who was working with orphan groups in Lusaka, to see some of the remarkable game, and to connect with locals–and how they did!
In spite of its beauty, Zambia continues to be ravaged by HIV/Aids.Â Life expectancy is 38 years, 86% of Zambians live below the international poverty line of $1 a day, and an outrageous 23% of the children are orphans. Only about 57% of the children ever have the opportunity to go to school, despite their desire to learn and have a better life.
The journey started in northeast Zambia at Flatdogs Camp in the South Luangwa Valley.Â The small traditional village of Mfuwe sits a few miles outside the game park. Through the efforts of conservation groups, indigenous game numbers are improving and elephant and lion populations are being restored.Â From a global perspective, this is good.Â However, the now protected game freely wanders beyond the park boundaries toÂ terrorize villagers and trample what few crops survive harsh conditions.Â Although tourism in the game park provides employment for some villagers, there is a high cost for living close to these dangerous animals.
Several of the safari companies have served this parkÂ for generations and take measures to give back to the community.Â At Flatdogs Camp, friends are part of this effort through Project Luangwa, a fund to support conservation, education and provide micro loans to families trying to start sustainable small businesses.
For example, when one of Flatdogsâ€™ village employees noticed how many children were wandering the streets unattended all day, he decided to take action.Â Most were orphans, living on whatever food and shelter could be found.Â He began a small preschool, called Chiyembekezo School, which currently provides half day school for 50 young children.Â A local church lends space and one very creative teacher gets paid whenever there is enough money. Supplies consist of a single chalkboard, some small plastic chairs, and children who are eager to learn.Â There are no books, toys, snacks or essential teaching aids for learning.
The Korts visited the school and spent time holding and playing with the kids and were smitten.Â Smitten and convicted! In addition to givingÂ some financial help, Marlene made aÂ promise that as an artistÂ she would do some â€œPaintings For Change.â€
Currently, Marlene has completed three paintings reflective of the area.Â Profits from these works will go directly to the Chiyembekezo School.Â It takes only about $10 a month to turnaround the life of aÂ child in Zambia through education.Â Â Marlene says,Â “I Â know that ultimately Zambiaâ€™s future will be best served through local leadership, so supporting education, especially by giving young children an early start, can be a tremendous investment in future changes. I would love to talk more about Zambia.Â Feel free to visit with me at one of the upcoming gallery events, or for more information on these projects check out these web pages.”
Next month, Artist Marlene Kort is contributing a beautiful acrylic grouping of ten paintings in celebration of Hunter-Wolff Gallery’s 5th Anniversary on October 1 for a silent auction.Â All proceeds will benefit the children’s Chiyembekezo School in Zambia, Africa.
If you canÂ help or know other ways to make a difference, contact Marlene or Sharon at Hunter-Wolff Gallery at www.hunterwolffgallery.com