Tikondane Community Centre
I’m not going to pretend Katete is the tourist capital of Zambia. It’s not. While it is a pleasant little town, it’s not really much more than a small stop off along a long stretch of road that eventually leads somewhere else. If you are here its most likely because you are volunteering or your bus has broken down. However, as Tikondane proudly splashes across is front wall, the reason to come to Katete is to see the “Real Africa” and while I don’t think any one town reflects a whole continent, Tikondane can certainly provide a wonderful opportunity to immerse yourself in the “Real Zambia”.
Like many rural towns without an industry in Zambia, Katete provides few employment opportunities for its residents. Lack of employment means a lack of income and most activities carried out by the residents of the town are at a subsistence level. Life is hand to mouth, season to season. Every year when the hunger season rolls around, people run the risk of running out of money and food. Without employment there seems little escape from this cycle but Tiko is working to break this cycle, at least for its members.
Tiko’s restaurant, gardens, offices, medical centre and school (all on site) provide employment and training to its 90+ members and their families. Its members all work at one or more of the various activities going on and receive a stipend for their contribution. /they also have access to Tiko's services, which can provide education for family members of the means to start a small business.
Tiko does not give hand-outs but rather rewards those willing to commit their time and energies to the activities of the centre. In that sense it is more like a commune than a community centre and as a volunteer you become a part of this community, contributing like every other member to the daily running of the centre or its long term development. In Tiko, you will never be alone. Day and night you are surrounded by the members who work, eat, pray and live there and so there is no escaping the “Real Zambia” at Tiko!
- Education: Tiko provide early childhood playgroups, primary education, literacy workshops, English lessons and GCE upgrade courses for parents and adults.
- Health: Tiko carry out HIV/Aids testing and counselling, health workshops and training, education on a balanced diet, prevention of infections, farming techniques and practices (to grow nutritious food),and home-based visits for the sick in the community.
- Income generating activities: Tiko carries out practical skills training programs to enable members to generate independent sources of income for themselves and Tiko.
- Tiko also does what it can to “support the traditional culture of caring for neighbours and family, generosity and the vibrant drumming, singing and dancing on Zambia”
Current Volunteer Opportunities:
- Education: There are a number of opportunities in education including assisting the local teachers with the primary classes, taking smaller groups for support-learning, carrying out reading and story groups and assisting with computer literacy and adult literacy.
- Health: Those with a background in health can assist with activities such as Home Based Care workshops and Health Awareness seminars.
- Business: A volunteer with a background in business could assist with the various income generation projects that are going on at the centre. Tiko strives to be sustainable itself and to promote local entrepreneurship. However, while there are a number of skills based projects (traditional blanket looming, basket weaving, etc) none are providing the income needed to ensure the centre can run independently of external funding. Perhaps the most promising business is the centre itself (restaurant & accommodation), and those with an appropriate background could advise Elke and her crew on how to make the most of these activities.
- Other opportunities: Tiko is interested in talking with potential volunteers about independent projects (eg carrying out surveys in the community). See attached pdf for more details on various volunteer opportunities with Tikondane.
Cost: It is roughly 140 Euro per week with Tiko, and this includes accommodation and 3 meals per day. As a TEV member you will receive a 10% discount on this price.
Accommodation: The centre has basic but comfortable rooms for volunteers at a house on the grounds that doubles as a medical clinic. All rooms are single or twin rooms with en-suite toilets and washing facilities, with a communal “kitchen” (lacking cooking facilities) where volutneers can store food and prepare meals that do not require cooking.
Food: Self catering is technically available for volunteers but at the time of writing the only cooking facility available is the local traditional fire stoves. Not to worry, the general volunteer package includes food at the Tiko restaurant. Ingredients are sourced, where possible, from the Tiko gardens and the selection, though limited, is very good (eg dinners of chiken, beef, rabbit or vegetables with rice, potatoes or Nshima).
Getting there: You are most likely coming from Lusaka, which means you have a seven hour bus journey ahead of you. The best thing to do is to take a day to rest in Lusaka at Kalulu Backpackers and purchase a ticket for the early morning bus to Katete. For info on airport transfers and buses see Lusaka.
Around Katete: Katete itself is a sleepy little town. As Tiko says “… you won’t be out partying every night. On the flip side, you experience life in a small rural town as many people in Zambia live, and get to spend time working with Zambians that you probably won’t find in a city or typical gap year package” and I would agree. Without the distractions of a big town you really do get into the local swing of things, hanging out chatting in the evening, bed early, up early and making use of the sunlight hours. For ideas on what to do with your evenings/weekends see the attached pdf from Tikondane.
Further afield, the closest big tourist attraction to Katete is South Luangwa National Park. You can stay in Croc Valley, which is located on the river just outside the park where you can available of your TEV Members 10% discount and organise morning and evening game drives from the lodge. To get there, you take a one hour bus ride to Chipata and from there you have two options – either get a local mini bus (which can take a few hours to fill and then a further 5 hours to arrive in Mfuwe) or take a private taxi for roughly 70 usd (2 hours). We did the latter and definitely didn’t regret it. Although our taxi broken down twice, which was kind of ironic……
From Katete you are also not too far from Lilongwe (across the border in Malawi), and from there it’s a 3 hour bus ride to Senga Bay on Lake Malawi, so that trip may be worth considering if you have a few days to spare.
Contact Tikondane to apply for current volunteer opportunies
Tikondane lodge and community centre
A volunteer helping with the centres admin
The communal gardens at Tiko
School starts early at Tiko with children lining up for morning lessons
Tikondanes director, Elke
Location of Katete