Sunday, December 28, 2008

Zambia 08

In early December '08 I went away on a job to Zambia for two weeks. It was the best job of the year. We were filming the process of a social entrepreneur training initiative of 150 women from around the country. These women were divided into ten groups and each group in a classroom with two trainers. They were taught how to start a business, how to estimate cash flow and profit, how to conduct market research. We followed them to different villages and witnessed how asking local businessmen how they conducted their businesses, what the market was like. The aim of the charity's plan was to start women in young business and therefore directly improve their local market place, stimulating business; local economy; and ultimately female empowerment. In a society where the women is seldom as educated as the man due to looking after the family, and far too often their farms as well, the charity's overall aim is to empower young women and equalize their standing in African society; a CAMpaign for Female EDucation.

After all the groups had done their market research there was a meeting in the big hall where they all had awards given out for different reasons, some on best business ideas, some most realistic cashflow predictions, etc. Every time a group won a prize all ten girls would come to the front and dance around in circles, it was amazing to see.

But the most amazing thing was at the end of the course, when all were awarded for different reasons. Not only did each girl come to the front of the hall to dance, but when the ceremony had ended and all went to their classes, they continued to dance on campus.

All around us was the sound of triumph and promise by women who were full of joy and hope. By women who over half are orphans because of AIDS and largely ignorance. Women who knew that not only had they been trained how to be self-sufficient in business, but influence their surroundings by helping others around them. It was a dance that meant so much, it was quite overwhelming.