Share the story of the founder and what inspired the founder to start this project
Victor Phiri founded the Project COPE as part of his work as the National Coordinator of the Workers Education Association of Zambia (WEAZ).
Victor was born into a middle class Zambian family. His father was a government Minister in the Education Ministry, and his mother was a school teacher. Victor attended college in Livingstone, and taught for a few years before he left to work for the poor.
He started by working in the informal economy, selling cell phones and cell phone cards. He began to organize the workers in the informal economy when he caught the negative attention of the government, leading him to live in hiding.
He eventually went to work for WEAZ, which was focused on organizing informal workers. Still, as poor as the urban workers were, Victor could see the rural people were far worse off.
In 2008 Victor hear through his connections with Earth Charter International that Earth Charter US was having a webinar to discuss the world wide application of the Earth Charter. By hiking and riding for an hour, he reached an Internet cafe with enough band width for him to attend. During that webinar, which included 100's of people from 7 different countries, I asked if anyone was interested in a project to apply the Earth Charter Principle of eliminating poverty as an ethical, social, and environmental imperative. Victor volunteered. During the following months, we sharpened our focus on eliminating rural poverty in one generation without going through the carbon economy. Victor was focused on applying his leadership skills to solving rural poverty.