Orange Ladder Project: A Shopping Spree for a Cause

The Youth Community Training Center of Livingstone, Zambia was created to empower less-fortunate youths and teach them skills to enable them to contribute to their communities. The group is associated  with “The District and Vulnerable Children Committee” and has been recruiting young sex workers, illegal border traders and other poor youths to help them develop to their full potential. The slogan of the group is, “Do not give me a fish, but teach me how to fish.”

The front wall of the center for underprivileged youths.

One humid morning, after eating breakfast at our hostel, Jason and I drove to the YCTC on the outskirts of Livingstone, hoping they could use our assistance, but unsure as to what they needed most. Could we teach a class, volunteer to lead their community sports, or maintain and repair the property in some way? We knew the answer would come to us after we got to know the people of the organization.

Our tour of the facility started with a briefing by Ms. Dorothy Bwalya, who has been working with the center since the opening in 1999.  Since its inception, the YCTC has trained more than 1500 youths in various skills, equipping them for jobs in hotel management, catering, construction, brick laying, and tailoring. The program also has courses for computer skills, since this has become the core of many industries. This summer, YCTC will open a program to teach the electrician trade to those interested in that field.

Two students at the metal shop

As we peeked into various classrooms at students cooking traditional meals, practicing brick laying, and clicking away during computer class, we chatted with Ms. Bwalya about the challenges in running the center. “The hardest part is charging the students their fees,” she said sadly. Although their monthly cost of attendance is only $10 US,  this is a lot of money for some of the youths and could be used to feed their families. The school definitely does not want to have to raise that tuition cost, so in order to keep this rate and provide materials such as food for the catering program and bricks for the masonry program, the center sells some of the items that the tailoring and woodworking classes make. It also raises chickens to sell at a small profit within the community.

The photos of crafts in our shop are arranged against an orange ladder. This is a metaphor for the steps it takes for these students to reach the top. With continued support, the YCTC will equip underprivileged youths for a successful future.

Because we asked to see which items the YCTC sold for profit, Ms. Bwalya led us to the tailoring classroom. Inside it was filled with beautiful, African fabrics and finished bags, apparel and household items, leaving us in awe of what the students had learned to make. That’s when we got the idea to host a shopping spree, enabling our readers to enjoy the local crafts of Zambia and support Livingstone’s underprivileged youth.

We hand-picked some of our favorite designs crafted by the students, and have placed them for sale on our Etsy site! If you see something you’d  like from our gallery and can be patient in receiving it, we will ship or hand-deliver your items once we arrive in the USA in August. We are offering free shipping or in-person delivery by us!

Students prepare for catering classes.

This shopping spree is available until Sunday, April 1 at 11:59 pm. If you see something you’d like that has already sold, please email us and we will ask if YCTC has a similar item for you!

So browse our site of hand-made African crafts and choose items for yourself or as gifts, while supporting skills training for youth  in Zambia. Please be assured that 100% of the proceeds go to the YCTC, enabling them to purchase materials for their classes. And let us know if you have any questions.Enjoy your “shopping spree for a cause!”

Jason gets a tour of the tool shed and speaks to the instructor.

One thought on “Orange Ladder Project: A Shopping Spree for a Cause

  1. Awesome idea guys, and what an effort you made, putting up the etsy shop and all! Beautiful things in the shop. Make sure you tell everyone not to wash their products made of African fabrics in the washing machine (or at least acknowledge the risks of doing so), so they’d still be beautiful after the wash! I’ve heard friends say their washing machine ruined their souvenirs because it just destroys the colours…

    Maybe using this stuff instead of the usual washing powder might save the patterns if someone really wants to try machine washing..?

    Happy Africa!

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