It’s not only on the daily walk to school that children and families are threatened by Zambian wildlife. For most families in Luangwa, the dangers are much closer to home.
Georgina and her family have been growing kale on a plot of land nearby their house. The vegetables not only provide nutritious food for her family, but also a modest income that is used to help her children, and her sister’s children, have a quality education. It’s no wonder that these crops are so important to Georgina—they’re her only livelihood and her family’s best chance of a bright and sustainable future.
These crops are so valuable to Georgina that she and her family choose to sleep under a tree in the kale plots every night. Why? Because at midnight, they’re ready to defend these crops from the attack of wild elephants.
“They come every night,” Georgina explains with a smirk. “We are always prepared at night to make noises that will scare the elephants away.”
This strategy has worked for Georgina, so far. But others in the Luangwa region haven’t been so fortunate. One mother I met had her crops destroyed by elephants just three days prior to my visit. And sadly, just last month, someone else lost their life to a herd of elephants coming through their property. It seems like human-animal conflict is impacting everyone in Luangwa.
Every day, Georgina wakes up at 4:00 am and begins her six-hour process of watering the crops. She makes hundreds of trips to the Zambezi River each morning, collecting enough water for her kale. Each trip she makes, Georgina could come across one of the many dangers living in the Zambezi — mostly hippos and crocodiles, which have a very high population.
Despite the risks, Georgina simply smiles knowing that she’s doing her part to help her family and her children to have a better future.
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