Liberty Hotel Helps Haiti

I liked this in HotelInteractive from Caryn Eve Murray

When southern Haiti was torn apart by a 7.0-magnitude earthquake on Jan. 12, Rachel Moniz immediately felt shockwaves more than 1,500 miles away at the small, privately owned Liberty Hotel in Boston’s Beacon Hill district. “I asked for a list of employees who have relatives in Haiti, who have any ties to Haiti, to make sure we got aid to their families,” said Moniz, the hotel’s general manager. The hotel handed each affected employee $300 that same day to go toward their families, then donated an additional $500 to the Red Cross for Haitian relief.

But the Liberty didn’t stop there: On February 4, the hotel’s hour-long weekly fashion show, Fashionably Late, will dress itself as an earthquake-relief fundraiser featuring the styles of a local avant-garde Haitian-American designer. “We will pay for everything, including the models, and donate a portion of our bar proceeds from that night,” said Moniz. “We’re also developing a package for people who want to stay in the hotel that night and … we will donate proceeds from that to the global disaster relief organization Ananda Marga Universal Relief Team, “ she said.

Then, on March, 13, the fundraising will continue with a wellness theme, offering an evening of yoga, live entertainment and a silent auction. Moniz said the Liberty Hotel is also trying to pull together a celebrity fundraiser in the next two weeks to bring in yet more relief dollars. The scope of the effort is unprecedented for the Liberty, a 300-room renovated former jail on the bank of the Charles River, she said. “We help different causes and are immersed in any action where we can provide relief, but to be so direct and explicit about one cause, this is actually a first for us.”


Chipembele Wildlife Education Centre

Here’s something really super for Sunday – hats off to Steve and Anna!

Chipembele Wildlife Education Centre is a fun, interactive and contemporary learning facility for Zambian children. It focuses its programmes on wildlife, the environment and conservation issues. The Centre is located on the banks of the Luangwa River opposite South Luangwa National Park. It is a wonderful, unspoiled setting for local children to learn about the value of their natural environment. This education will help to both protect the wildlife and generate sustainable development for the benefit of the local population for generations to come.

Chipembele is run under the auspices of a registered Zambian charitable trust. It was established and is now managed by Steve and Anna Tolan, who emigrated from England to Zambia in 1998 to fulfill their dream of building and running such a centre. It is supported in the UK by Chipembele Trust, a registered UK charity.

Since then however, the Trust has progressed to encompass much more than the Wildlife Education Centre. The work has expanded its programme of conservation education into the local schools and operates a Chipembele Rangers scheme through the school conservation clubs. Anna manages school improvement projects, runs a Pupil Sponsorship Scheme and is involved with local women’s groups. Steve is an actively involved in anti-poaching work and forestry protection. Chipembele also has a seat on the Board of Trustees of the South Luangwa Conservation Society, where Anna has the position of Secretary. They rear and rehabilitate orphaned and injured wild animals and they have made discoveries of archaeological and palaeontological importance.



Work has started on the construction of a block containing 2 offices at Chanters Lodge, Livingstone. “Why do you need more office space?” I hear you ask. “Is your administration getting bloated?” Ummm – more office space? Actually we don’t have any! And this more than 11 years since the lodge first opened! How have we managed?

Well, initially, the ‘office’ was located under a tree in the garden. From there it moved to a table on the terrace. From there to a table in the restaurant, and then, as the lodge got bigger, to a Guest room – meaning that whenever the room’s let, we have to move out! Inconvenient – to put it mildly, though we’re not a management team that enjoys being, or is, ‘office bound’.

Now, as the years go by and I get no younger, it’s time also to consider the future. To this end, Annastasia Katele my delightful assistant has to learn to do some of the things I do at the moment – initially stores, bar and kitchen stock control. So she also needs a base from which to work.

Our two offices will be located on the right of the restaurant in the car park as you enter the lodge, in such a place as to afford me a good view of the front gate, lodge entrance, reception and the back yard! And Annastasia the same views forward, but behind her a view inside the laundry where Chanters Girlies meet (and talk) etc.

This addition will also allow us to redevelop the room we’re currently using as an office, then giving the lodge 12 letting rooms consisting of three small self-contained double rooms in the main house (for single or double occupancy at economical rates), four poolside doubles, 4 spacious twins and a family room.

There’s a picture of the work happening on the first day – and on the second day it rained!!!


The Livingstone Performing Arts Foundation

The Livingstone Performing Arts Foundation (LiPAF) is a not-for-profit NGO staging musical theatre shows to preserve and promote Zambian culture through excellence in the arts. They offer full time employment to 20 very talented performers from Livingstone and have implemented several community projects to support local schools, health organizations, and vulnerable families.

Currently, they are performing their latest show, “Dancing Around Zambia” at the Zambezi Sun Resort every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday evening at 20h00. Charges are $20 or just K25,000 for Zambian residents. Although they are given the use of the venue at the Sun, LiPAF is not hired by Sun and they are wholly dependent upon ticket sales for their revenue.

At Chanters Lodge we have just ‘linked’ their website with ours and they, in turn, will list our web site on theirs at They also want you to know that they can travel with their show to other venues for group performances.

I haven’t yet seen one of their shows but hope to do so in the near future, but we’ve heard only excellent reports from Guests who have done so! We wish them the best of luck with their great project!


SOS Children’s Village, Livingstone

Recently we had Clients staying at Chanters Lodge who were, unfortunately, dissatisfied with one of their activities and subsequently asked the provider to refund the cost to any charity of my choice. This was kind. After some thought we decided to give the donation to SOS Children’s Village of Zambia Trust. The village in Livingstone, just next to the weighbridge on the Lusaka road, which looks after some 153 children and is always in need of funds. This is what they do.

SOS Children’s Villages is an international non-governmental social development organisation that has been active in the field of children’s rights and committed to children’s needs and concerns since 1949. In 132 countries and territories our activities focus on children without parental care and children of families in difficult circumstances.

SOS Children’s Villages focuses on family-based, long-term care of children who can no longer grow up with their biological families. At our SOS Children’s Villages and SOS Youth Facilities they experience reliable relationships and love once again, meaning that they can recover from what they have experienced, which has often been traumatic. They grow up in a stable family environment, and are supported individually until they become independent young adults.

We are extending our work with families through family strengthening programmes by working with and for disadvantaged families to prevent crises that can in the worst case scenario lead to children being placed in out-of-home care. SOS Children’s Villages offers various forms of support to strengthen and stabilise families as much as possible so that they can once again manage their lives independently and care for their children. Our family strengthening programmes are an important way of building on the families’ and communities’ resources, their ability to self-organise themselves and their responsibility for the well-being of the children.

Equal rights to education and training for children are another important area of our work. Pre-school care for children, schooling and vocational training are the key to the future. To ensure that children enjoy these basic rights, SOS Children’s Villages has kindergartens, day-care centres, schools and vocational training centres. Most of them are located outside Europe.

SOS Children’s Villages is concerned about all children, particularly those who have no parental care and those whose families have to live in difficult conditions. The basis and aim of our work is to respect, promote and stand up for children’s rights. We want to use our socio-political work to make decision makers and the public aware of the problems that children face and to call for measures that will promote the well-being of children across the world. In parallel to our lobbying activities, we encourage children to actively take part in the decision-making processes that affect their lives and, if possible, to actually represent themselves.”

We made the choice because on a previous occasion when some other Clients had taken a donation to SOS we’d been very well received. So we were this time too! Thanks to Clarence Mwami their Village Administrator!


The Book Bus

We have Tom Mascher staying with us at Chanters Lodge Livingstone. Tom Maschler is a British publisher and writer. The son of Austrian Jews, he was five when his family fled the Nazis in Vienna and brought him to England. As a teenager, he travelled widely, worked on a kibbutz and did national service before going on to become one of the most dynamic figures in publishing.

In his role as head of Jonathan Cape, he discovered and published many writers including Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Ian McEwan and Bruce Chatwin to whom he acted as an informal patron. On The Black Hill was inspired by Chatwin’s stay in Maschler’s Welsh holiday cottage on the English-Welsh borders and it was there that Chatwin wrote most of the manuscript.
One of Maschler’s earliest coups was purchasing Joseph Heller’s Catch 22 for £250. He also was one of the key figures responsible for creating the Booker Prize in the late Sixties – envisaged as a British version of the French Prix Goncourt. His memoir, Publisher, was published in 2005. He was married to Fay Maschler, the long-serving London Evening Standard restaurant critic, but divorced in the mid-Eighties. In 1988, he married Regina Kulinicz to whom he is still married.

Tom is in Zambia with The Book Bus – I am now the proud owner of a Waterstone/Book Bus Book Bag with illustrations by Quentin Blake! Here’s about the Book Bus:

“The Book Bus believes that every child should have the opportunity to discover the hidden treasures that books contain.

Our aim is to reveal the value of literacy by instilling a lifelong love of reading in young children. Using the spoken word, artwork, puppet-making and a host of other media, our volunteers bring to life the worlds within storybooks. The Book Bus provides a mobile service and actively promotes literacy to underprivileged communities in Zambia and Ecuador. The legacy of each Book Bus visit is a reading corner and bookshelves stocked with children’s books.

There’s no doubt that stories can make a difference to children’s lives and with story tellers onboard, the Book Bus can help maintain the link between local society and its own stories as well as providing inspiration with new stories from afar.

The idea of using a bus to bring books to children is not a new one but our Book Buses are more than simple mobile libraries. Our onboard volunteer crews engage with children and their teachers, promoting reading in a way that is creative, safe and above all, fun. By mixing books with enjoyment, they aim to encourage an early interest in reading. Through repeat visits, regular book donations and help with developing library spaces, they hope to sustain that interest.

Everywhere they go, our Book Buses attract attention, thanks to the stunning artwork by celebrated children’s artist, Quentin Blake, who is a staunch supporter of the project. Our crew of enthusiastic volunteers work with local teachers, storytellers, musicians and artists. Not only do these guest artists entertain the children, they also help to ensure that the Book Bus’ approach, material and communication are appropriate to local needs.”

Isn’t that great!


The Gregersens And Those Strawberries!

One of the things people say they miss most when they leave Africa to settle back wherever they first came from, is friendship – I’ve never left but I believe it’s true. I’ve met and become friends with so many people in my 40 odd years as an ‘expatriate’. People leave and leave a void. Luckily these days you can still keep in close touch on sites like Facebook and Twitter. Anyway I digress!

See that picture? That’s me holding up a packet of strawberries – did I buy them from Spar in Livingstone? Did I h*ll! They were brought to Chanters Lodge for me by David Gregersen after he’d Twittered about his fabulous strawberries & I begged for some! David is @DavGreger on Twitter if you’re interested and is a great follow! Shortly after this picture was taken I scoffed the lot in secret, in one sitting!

David and Linda Gregersen live in Kalomo, Southern Province, Zambia – they have a great blog Gregersenblog – David says “This is my (Linda’s) account of our life at Namwianga Mission in Kalomo, Zambia. We teach at George Benson Christian College preparing students to become secondary teachers. We frequently travel to area villages and churches to tell the story of Jesus Christ. We are supported by our home congregation of 20 years, Brentwood Oaks Church of Christ in Austin, Texas.”

The Gregersens have been great supporters of Chanters Lodge since I’ve known them and continue to be so, recommending us to everyone who passes through their fantastic mission. Sometimes a phone call “we’re on our way overseas Richard, can we come for one last bream fillets and chips before we go?” They’ve coped with the hardships and problems that come your way in Africa in amazingly good spirits – very tough times in Linda’s case. I believe they’re currently deciding whether next year will be the time for them to return home, which brings me back to where I started – if they do decide ‘time’s up!’ I for one will miss them like H*ll! (They’re Christians so I can’t spell it out!)

Thanks again Dave and Linda!


Power Of Love Foundation

Recently Alka Subramanian was a Guest at Chanters Lodge in Livingstone. Alka is a Director of the Power of Love Foundation in Lusaka, and this is what they do!

Power of Love develops smart, effective methods to strengthen the community response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Currently, though 99% of the work to counter the spread of HIV is being done at the grassroots level, little funding is going to these community-based organizations. The money that does reach them is used to fulfill immediate on-the-ground needs.

Program funding is often based on meeting performance goals that measure success only by how many people the program reaches, not how effectively the program reaches them. There are few resources and little time in grassroots organizations to explore new, potentially more effective responses to counter the spread of HIV.

Power of Love believes that by utilizing technology and business processes appropriately, we can build creative response models that increase the output of care for each dollar donated.
We design, develop, and test innovative response models to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. As the models prove successful, Power of Love shares them with existing grassroots organizations and communities interested in starting new programs for themselves.
We certainly wish them all the best with their wonderful project!

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