Sables Drop-In Centre

Accommodation: TEV Members receive the volunteer discount at Luangwa Safari Lodge

About Sables: Kabwe is a 2 hour bus ride from Zambia’s capital city, Lusaka, and yet they are worlds apart. While Lusaka is changing by the day, with fast food diners, mobile phone shops and South African clothing chains jostling for space, Kabwe seems to have been forgotten, left behind when the mine shut down in 1994 and industry pulled out for greener (or perhaps that should be ‘more lead filled’) pastures. I’m not sure what’s worse, the complete absence of hope, or the memory of it, but you could be forgiven for feeling a little sad when walking through Kabwes largest settlement, the Makalulu compound, with its queues of women waiting patiently in the soft light of dawn for their chance to fill their containers by the communal water pumps, and the listless kids hanging out of doorframes, greeting another morning of another day which stretches out before them, blank and unchanging. Poverty is rife in Kabwe and there seems to be little prospects for the towns poor.
However, as Oscar Wilde wrote “I may be lying in the gutter, but Im looking at the stars”  and every morning at 8am when you see kids of all shapes and sizes pouring through the gates of Sables, you get the feeling that maybe things are on the turn for at least a few of the towns younger residents.
Sables is a drop-in centre for street children, a school, a home and a safe refuge where kids aged 6 to 16 can come each and every day to receive some food and education. Most of the children attending the centre daily are single or double orphans (meaning that they have lost one or two parents) and it is a testament to the importance of the centre that children are willing, of their own accord, to walk for up to two hours every day to reach it. Most of the children at the centre have been found begging or working on the street by the centres social worker, Loveness and so the centre represents for them the chance to escape the dangers of the street. While many of the 90+ children come from the surrounding compounds of Kabwe each morning, Sables also provides emergency boarding facilities for some of the most vulnerable children that attend the centre. All children receive breakfast at 8am followed by morning classes and lunch. During the afternoon a range of activities are carried out including soccer, netball, music, drama and art, allowing the children a space to play and be young. What’s more, while Sables fills the immediate need for an alternative to street life, it also provides a real opportunity of a brighter future for the children through its graduation program with local school, Shitima, which offers the children of Sables which show potential and ability a place in their more formal learning environment.

Current projects/activities: Sables provides clothing, food, shelter, education, recreation and counselling services. Sables also has a garden which covers some of the food needs of the centre and they are in the process of building a new, larger centre a few km away from the current site.

Current Volunteer Opportunities:Sables is always looking for teachers to work in a ‘learning support’ capacity. They have many children and very few resources and so are always in need of volunteer support. Activities volunteers can get involved with include:

  • Teaching
  • Teacher training
  • One-on-one support (reading/writing)
  • Gardening
  • Building
  • Soccer/netball/other sports
  • Paining/drawing/arts & craft
  • Social work
  • Counselling (knowledge of the local language needed)
  • Dancing, singing, drama, guitar playing etc
  • Fundraising

Requirements: While duration of stay required will vary, Sables has a minimum commitment requirement of one month and strongly encourages volunteers to stay longer to lessen the impact a rotation of volunteer will have on the children.

Accommodation: Volunteers stay at Luangwa Safari Lodge or in the volunteer housing provided by Shitima School (shared with Sables volunteers).

Getting there: You will most likely fly into Lusaka late at night and so we recommend staying at Kalulu Backpackers for the night (email them in advance to organise a taxi pick up and a private room for the night – as a TEV member you can get a good price on a private room at Kalulu) and grab a bus to Kabwe from the central bus station in the morning.


Facebook: Zamda Ireland

Phone number: 0026 0965 869531

Skype ID: eoins123


Contact Sables to apply for a current volunteer opportunity

The early morning walk to school, Makalulu, Kabwe


Loveness, the social worker, explains the challenges the kids face




Morning Lessons

Morning Lessons

Soccer with the boys

Soccer with the boys