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ImpactNetwork_jan-8762Impact Network has been working with rural schools in Zambia for over five years. We take care of everything that a school needs to operate – providing school supplies, hiring and training teachers, and tools for teachers and students – all for a cost of only $3 a month per student.

One of the most crucial parts of our holistic approach is hiring locally. Why?

01 | JOB CREATION
We are working in extremely rural settings – no running water, no electricity, and very few resources. Almost everyone in these settings are subsistence farmers, and many transactions are cashless. We believe that hiring locally provides incredible job creation and training opportunities that would otherwise not exist in the communities where we work.

02 | KNOW YOUR COMMUNITY
Hiring outside of the local environment introduces risks you may not have realized. One of the advantages of hiring locally is that your staff will understand the context that you are working in and be invested in the success of the program. For us, that means our teachers often know our students and families before they enroll, so communication and feedback is easy from the outset.

03 | REMEMBER WHY WE ARE DOING THIS
We often get applications for volunteers to “Teach English” at our schools, and we see a number of organizations that do this around the globe. For us, volunteers from outside of Zambia are most effective serving as a communication bridge between U.S. and Zambia teams. Having local teachers in the classroom ensures that our students have consistency in their education and allows volunteers to actively contribute in other valuable ways.

04 | CONTRIBUTE TO THE LOCAL ECONOMY
Any one intervention is not going to change the trajectory of an entire nation. But if each individual program worked more holistically, we could expand economies in more meaningful ways. For example, we are often approached with offers of donated books and supplies, which are actually available easily for purchase in Zambia. We believe in supporting local businesses so we choose to source these items locally instead. So when people donate money to our organization, they are also helping to strengthen the local economy surrounding our schools.

Working with citizens in the areas that we do has given new meaning to that old adage – Think Global, Act Local.

Image: Julia Firestone

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