Mazabuka is located in the Southern Province of Zambia, almost 200 kilometres southwest of Lusaka, the capital of the country. Almost 50,000 people live in 17 compounds in Mazabuka. Like most Zambian cities, Mazabuka is divided into different areas called compounds, which develop around the city centre. Around Mazabuka there are many commercial farms and plantations, the largest of which is the sugar cane plantation. Zambia Sugar distributes their products in both the domestic and international markets.

The greatest cause of death in Mazabuka is AIDS, with an HIV prevalence rate of 17% (a little more than the Zambian average). The average life expectancy in Zambia is thirty seven years old. Such a low life expectancy results in an increased number of orphans. Many orphans end up living on the street. Others are cared for by relatives or friends.

Currently there are two main projects run by St. Bakhita’s in order to support the community and in particular the youth. These projects target orphans and underprivileged children. The first is Luyobolola Community School and the second is entitled The Ark Project which comprises five houses for orphaned teens. One of the main goals is for these projects to attain self-sustainability. Currently, these projects are supported by outside funding. The projects in development include the Bakery and Guesthouse which will help achieve this goal.


When Father Maurizio Canclini arrived in Mazabuka he observed that many young people were not receiving an education due to financial constraints. An elementary school was established in 2001 to enable any child, regardless of their economic status, a chance for education. Father Canclini wanted the school to take care of the whole person, not just the mind. For this reason the school monitors the health of the children. One way in which they do this is to give the children lunch. This ensures that many children, who would be otherwise hungry, receive food and proper nutrition. The school also promotes good health through many extracurricular activities (mainly football, basketball and volleyball). This also helps to build a strong sense of community.

The teachers are comprised of volunteers from the community. Many international volunteers also serve as teachers. The school has grown since 2001 from 12 pupils to a total enrolment of just under 700 pupils. The enrolment process is rigorous as tries to determine who is most in need. Pupils come from very poor homes and many are orphans.


The second project established is the Ark Project. This project includes five houses located in the compound directly across from Assumption Parish. The Arks were created to house orphaned and underprivileged teenagers who come from difficult family situations. The main aim of the project is to promote a healthy family environment.

All members of the Ark houses attend school and are given the possibility for further education beyond high school. Our hope is that all houses eventually become self-sustaining through income generating projects.

There are currently four houses for boys and one house for girls where groups of six to ten people live with two adult mentors. The desired affect is the creation a family environment where the mentors that live in the house act as uncles or aunts. In addition to offering a healthy family life, another important aim is to promote educational opportunities. The uncles and aunts play a very important role in the houses because they are a model for the youths and they share in every moment of domestic life.

Older boys and girls act like older brothers and sisters to the younger teenagers. They can speak to one another and ask for help or advice. Most of the uncles and aunties of the houses also teach in the parish community school. They are volunteers who have been cooperating with the parish team for a long time. They have a very delicate and crucial task in the arks.

Uncles and aunties also contribute to the project economically by contributing to the maintenance of the houses.


The parish priest, father Maurizio Canclini, started the art centre project in order to give some young people attending the parish and the Luyobolola Community School the opportunity to put their artistic skills into practice. Some of them showed a particular interest in African figurative arts in all forms ranging from sculpture to painting.

From the beginning, the project had several targets. The first was to give young people artistic training based on technical and cultural knowledge. The hope is that young artists will rediscover Tonga culture through art that would otherwise be eclipsed or disappear entirely with the onset of modernization and urban society.

The second aim was to set up a school of art in order to give artists the means for further artistic development and the possibility of future economic enrichment. So in 2002, the art school was born with 12 students and a teacher. The students were taught sculpture and canvas painting.

At the beginning, lessons were taught underneath a tree. Then building materials were donated specifically for the construction a classroom. The classroom was built in the shape of a traditional African house; a round structure with a straw roof, known as chitungu. It was built by the students of the art school and promptly equipped with painting and sculpture tools.

Carved Wooden Crucifix & Masks The production of small statues, African masks and religious paintings have been successful. Ultimately, the aim is to change the school into a real art workshop which could reach not only the “protected market” of visitors and friends but also open up to the national and international markets.

Every artist earns from his/her own work, there is no common wage or salary for artists and this way everyone is stimulated to work, produce and improve the quality of his/her work. This defends against opportunistic behaviours and further contributes to the human and professional aim of teaching young people not to take advantage of others.

At the moment there are nine artists between the ages of 19 and 27 years old. There are three project leaders who take care of the organization and management of the art centre.

Among the nine artists, two have a physically disability. For them, the centre is a source of human and professional development. In a society lacking in social services and resources for the disabled, the centre provides an opportunity for them to work and live with dignity.

The Art Centre is currently sustained by the demand for African handicrafts by fair trade Italian businesses and individual consumers. Ultimatley, the goal is to ensure the continuous training of young artists allowing them to improve their skills and maintain the vocational training of a new generation. Young people who show a particular interest in art will be given the opportunity to attend the art school in Lusaka. After college the artists will teach the next generation at the art workshop. there is also a collaboration of professional artists coming from abroad (to date from Italy and USA) as volunteers to share their experiences and knowledge to the students.


The Bakery Association of Milan has given a wonderful donation in order to open a proper Bakery and School for Baking on the premises of Assumption Parish. This project offers an opportunity to pursue a profession in baking for the young men and women of Luyobolola Community School and the Ark Project.

This will ensure a promising future for these young men and women. The Bakery Project has been established in order to provide job and educational opportunities but also in order to financially support the two existing projects. This is done by providing food and financial assistance from the bakery sales.

Currently three young men are attending baking school in Milan and will return as the head bakers and teachers to train others.

A guesthouse has also been built. These rooms are used by volunteers visiting Mazabuka. However, in the future it is hoped to open it to anyone who wants to stay. The building will also function as an Ark with one group of boys living there. They will maintain all the required functions of the house.

The Youth centre will have four different areas of interest. The first area of interest is to provide a place for youth to gather. This space will allow youth to meet together to chat, play games, or just relax.

The centre will be recognised by the youth as a place to come to without the temptation of any negative factors. The second area will provide counselling services for the youth, serving as a venue for youth in need of guidance or advice. This part of the centre will be equipped to handle serious problems but also to welcome those youth who wish to just speak about the difficulties they encounter in every day life.

The third area will be a library including textbooks for school use and novels for recreational reading.

The hope is to increase literacy rates within the community and provide a study area for students. The fourth and final area will be an outdoor events centre.

Zambia is a country that loves the performing arts. The events centre will be able to host a variety of shows including music, drama and cultural performances. There are numerous groups in the community that involve singing, dancing, and drama. This area of the Youth Centre will not only give them a place for performance and rehearsals but an opportunity to share with each other.

SERVE volunteers get involved in all of the above projects – visiting and staying with the boys in the Ark houses, running Art workshops, assisting teachers with the school curriculum, as well as running a Meitheal Youth Leadership Training programme for youth from the locality as well as training local trainers, and working more recently on the sustainable agriculture project.

For more information, read:

>> SERVE Volunteer Role Profiles

>> SERVE’s Development Work in Zambia

If you are interested in financially supporting this project in Zambia we would be very grateful of any donation you can make.

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  • HIV / AIDS Programme
  • Youth leadership training
  • Building Project

SERVE Volunteer group meeting the community near Luyando farm (Zambia)

Children living near Luyando farm (Zambia)

Children helping on the farm (Zambia)

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