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The Lesedi project is located in a rural area 15 minutes’ drive from Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. Despite being relatively close to town, the daily existence could be from another world. Most families survive by cattle raising and subsistence farming on the infertile Kalahari sands. Generally poorly educated, the communities around Lesedi have low aspiration levels and limited role models. Poverty has persisted for generations.

Prior to Lesedi, the nearest local school was many kilometres away. Children were often absent or dropped out of school altogether. Many parents, unable to pay school fees, preferred their children to remain at home to help with household chores. There is a high incidence of HIV and AIDS.

When one of the project’s founders – renowned safari guide, Benson Siyawareva – built a homestead in the area, he realized that many of the children weren’t going to school. Having grown up in similar circumstances, he pledged to try and make a difference. That was the start of Lesedi, which means ‘Light’.

At the time, Benson was running a safari company with his business partner of many years, Fiona Thompson. Fiona and her husband Graeme had met Benson on safari over 20 years ago and remained firm friends ever since. Having decided a school was needed, Benson was quick to bring his friends on board to support the project.

We started the Lesedi project in 2014 with a simple hut, a handful of youngsters and one trainee teacher. Just ten years later, Lesedi is unrecognizable, comprising a primary school, secondary school, and clinic.

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