Zambia Gold will be kicking off a week’s worth of events intended to raise awareness of its mission in Zambia Saturday. Events will include a day when the COG will feature Zambian cuisine, a live bee exhibit on Crosby’s steps and a cooperative fair trade event with St. Aloysius parish on Saturday and Sunday.
Brady Essmann, one of Zambia Gold’s interns, said weekend events will be held after Masses on Saturday and Sunday near the Grotto of Mary. Birds of prey, llamas and various fair trade products will be featured at the events along with other exhibits.
The COG night on Wednesday will feature Zambian music, food and a slideshow featuring pictures taken by the organization on trips to Zambia. The table Zambia Gold puts up every week to sell the Zambian fair trade honey will also be present.
Those involved with Zambia Gold are not trying to sell the products from Zambia as much as the story. They aim to help people understand just how much value there is in helping the Zambian people.
“With the events that we table at, we’re really not looking for a huge profit margin. A lot of it really though … is telling that story,” Essmann said.
She went on to describe how they make a particularly strong push at the end of the year because of the leftover Flex that students often have. Essmann pointed out that instead of buying pizza for a group of friends, a student could buy one of the honey packages, which is a good investment both as food and as a service to the Zambian people. She said that this point was one which they particularly hoped to cement in people’s minds with the upcoming events.
Josh Armstrong, director of the Comprehensive Leadership Program and the adviser for Zambia Gold, explained further the mission of the group as an independent fair trade non-profit. Members attempt to find venues to sell Zambian products while avoiding those which would exploit the Zambian people. This job falls mainly to the student interns, who largely run the organization.
All profits go to the Zambian people in the form of education for Zambian children. Essmann mentioned the construction of a library, school uniforms and scholarships as just some of the projects that receive funds from Zambia Gold.
“By the time we pay the beekeepers, ship it here and process it, it costs us about $5.50 to actually get it here. Then we’re selling it for $10, and all those proceeds go back … Gonzaga’s investment is really the educational value for our students,” Armstrong said.
Blake Carr, another intern with the program, is in charge of the community outreach part of the organization. He described the relationship with the Zambian people as one of give and take.