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Raise a Smile - school pupils doing literacy - education in Zambia

About Raise a Smile



Every child has the right to education. Which is why we started the children's charity Raise a Smile. We empower vulnerable children and orphans in Zambia through various educational projects and give them the chance to decide their own futures!



Our Story

raise a smile founding member and chairwoman Esther doing crafts with children

Esther Ridder received the 'Goldene Bild der Frau Award' in 2016 from Germany's biggest women's magazine for her work with Raise a Smile.


In 2006 our founder, Esther Ridder, visited Zambia (in Southern Africa) for the first time. She was deeply moved by the fact that so many children are desperate to attend school, but poverty prevents them from doing so. She returned to Germany with a motivation to do something for children who have no access to education.


From this motivation Raise a Smile was born and in 2009 the German non profit organisation 'Raise a Smile e.V.' was registered. Since this first visit to Zambia, Raise a Smile, under Esther's guidance, developed to support existing projects in Zambia.


In 2013 we moved our base from Germany to Zambia and registered as an NGO there. With our move, we grew from supporting existing projects to establishing projects of our own.


Our team is made up of a diverse group of people with a variety of expertise, nationalities and life experiences. But we all have one thing in common, a huge passion for education.



raise a smile founding memeber gray in chipata zambia

(left) District wide literacy campaign, training teachers from more than 70 rural schools. (right) School WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene), our latest project.

What We Do


Raise a Smile empowers vulnerable children in Zambia through education. Education is the focus of our work, because it is the foundation of personal development. In our projects we work closely with schools, communities and the local Ministry of Education to increase access to education and improve the standard of education at schools. To ensure sustainability, we provide people with the tools to improve their own situation.


We achieve this through a variety of projects including: literacy training, school fee sponsorship, tree planting, malaria and HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns and much more. Our latest project tackles the topic of School WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) to ensure pupils stay healthy and don't miss school due to illness.


Learn more about our projects...



Where we work

Map of Zambia and Africa

Map of Zambia.


The work of Raise a Smile is carried out in Zambia, a country in Southern Africa. Zambia is more than 3 times the size of the UK or about the same size as Texas, but has a population of only 13 million.


Our office, and therefore most of our work, is based in Mambwe District in the East of Zambia. This area is rural, remote and lacking in infrastructure. With over 90% of the population surviving through subsistence farming, most families do not have any extra income to spend on education.


Zambia is a beautiful country with warm and friendly people, but it is also a country where a third of all children lose one or both parents before reaching adulthood and the life expectancy is only 43 years.


Find out more about Zambia...




Education is the most powerful tool against poverty and oppression. With the support of our donors, we empower children to decide for themselves the direction their lives will take.