Our story of how Malambo Grassroots started really begins almost 100 years ago.
The Moorings Farm was established in 1917 by TW Savory, and his family has been living and working there since then.
Initially we began our work to meet the immediate need of the time (the early 1990’s) when there was a terrible drought that lasted 3-4 years. We wanted to assist the people of our community that our family has lived with for going on now 5 generations. In 1992, confronted with total crop failure which affected the incomes of their husbands as well as their own food resources, produce for sale and incomes, the women watched their small crops wither and die. Family members from other areas, even worse off than they, joined them as they sought refuge from the worst effects of the drought in their villages.
We had a feeling of helplessness and frustration from hearing the international community talking about what was going on just in terms of statistics – when we were meeting people day by day, who we knew well, who were devastated and struggling with enormous difficulty. The people we knew were more than the statistics. We saw that we had something to contribute. We knew we couldn’t change the whole world but we could improve some things for some people. We were, and still are, part of the community and wanted to help.
Two of us, Marylee and Jocelyn Banyard (TW Savory’s granddaughter and great-granddaughter) began working with the local women to find a solution to their dire situation. The initial solution that we thought would work was sewing – a skill which had been a hobby on the farm since the 1940’s when Irene Savory (mother to Marylee and grandmother to Jocelyn) had introduced the local women to the craft. This project, started by the Banyards together with local Zambians Elizabeth Muuka and Omega Nyanga, lead to a group of rural Tonga women creating fabric products such as table cloths, bedspreads, table mats etc. with an emphasis on village life and stories, people and animals of Zambia. They sold them to the International community in Lusaka – the capital city located in central Zambia. By selling their work, the Malambo women were able to buy a sewing machine and provide themselves with a small income that helped to tide them through the drought years.
Products are still marketed mostly in Lusaka, 100 miles away, and women now even take orders for their work. We are pleased to say that this project has grown over the years and continues to provide income and a community for the women in this region.
As the needs of locals in the area have changed, our areas of focus have also grown and changed in response. We now work in other areas of southern Zambia, and have other projects for income-generation and a strong focus on education.
We have a long-term commitment to the people of southern Zambia and a deep understanding of their history and culture.