The Story of Tikondane: a Small Charity in the Heart of Zambia

Added over 8 years ago

While Zimbabwe and South Africa appear constantly in the international news, their poorer northern neighbor Zambia is almost unknown to the outside world.  A Republic since 1964, Zambia is a landlocked country bounded by the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Tanzania to the north-east, Malawi to the east, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Namibia to the south and Angola to the west. The Zambezi River, fourth largest in Africa, travels through much of Zambia and the famous Victoria Falls are located on it's border with Zimbabwe.

Zambia gained its independence in 1964 but only held its first multi-party elections in 1991. During the 1970's, as world market copper prices began to decline, the country began a descent into poverty from which it has never recovered. Zambia's total foreign debt exceeded $6 billion in 2000, the ever-growing population strains economic growth and HIV/AIDS is widespread.  Most rural Zambians are subsistence farmers, producing only enough food to feed their families in good years, while famines caused by declining and erratic rainfall are common.  The average per capita income is US$395, placing Zambia as one of the world's poorest countries.

Enter Elke Kroeger-Radcliff.  Born in Germany, Elke trained as a nurse specialising in ophthalmic nursing, the study of the eyes.  After living in Sydney for many years she accepted a position training nursing staff at the St. Francis Mission Hospital near the eastern Zambian township of Katete.  While there, Elke became aware that the hospital's electrician couldn't read!  Gradually she found out that most of the local Zambians were illiterate because of a policy that excludes children from school who do not have school uniform.  Very few of the rural Zambians can spare the cash that would be needed to purchase a school uniform.  So she started adult literacy classes for hospital personnel in the early evenings. As the classes grew as word spread, the hospital administration put a limit on class sizes by allowing only hospital personnel to attend.  To allow access for all, Elke approached the local Chief who gave her land next door to the hospital.  And so Tikondane was created as a place where local villagers could participate in literacy programs and so contribute to a higher level of education throughout the district.

That was fourteen years ago. Elke never left Tikondane, now a thriving centre run for and by the people of Katete under Elke's guidance. Today Tikondane serves and supports approximately 20,500 local people, 75% of whom are below the age of 18.  It boasts a community school for 500 children and adult education programs for 250 adults as well as income generating projects such as a market garden, guesthouse and restaurant, weaving, soap making, carpentry and tin smithing.  It is a place where education, empowerment & empathy play a vital role in supporting a positive community environment.


Tikondane aims to:

  1. Reduce poverty in the province of Katete, with particular regard to the  women of the community
  2. Address local health issues through education and the creation of a network of CTC (Counseling-Testing-Care) centres for HIV/AIDS within the eastern Zambian       catchment of villages
  3. Create income-generating activities and on-the-job skill training for the local population, based in both local and overseas markets
  4. Provide formal qualifications for community members, ranging from basic schooling to providing funding for higher education needs  
  5. Support the growing number of HIV orphans in the region and provide them with basic living requirements, an education and work skills.

What can we do to help Tiko?

Tikondane survives from year to year on a shoestring budget, which is generated in part from earnings from the Guest House and also from charitable donations.  Many of these donations are brought about solely by Elke's strength of will and determination.

To help Tikondane help the people of Zambia, you can:

Make a one-off donation.  Every little bit helps and all donations are put directly towards the day-to-day running of Tikondane (staff are paid approximately $1 per day) or towards a larger project such as the building of a pottery (to help generate craft sales) or new tourist facilities

Send cheque to:
National Council of Churches
‘NCCA (Tikondane)'
Locked Bag 199

UK and EU
Make payment to:
Elke Kroeger-Radcliffe
Barclays International Bank
A/c No: 50 18 51 24
Sort code 20 47 42
Swiftbic BARC GB 22
38 Hans Crescent

Make payment to:
Naperville Sunrise Rotary ClubMemo field ‘Tikondane'
Mail to: Rotary Club Naperville Sunrise
P O Box 890
NAPERVILLE Illinois 60566

Make an on-going donation.  Even as little as US$5/AUS$7 a month will put one local child through the community school at Tikondane.  Imagine what $20 a month could do!  Remember, for residents of Australia and the US all donations are 100% tax deductible. Full details of the Child at Risk and Family Sponsorship Programs are also available from the Tikondane website.

Stay at Tikondane.  Planning an African holiday?  Take some time out from the five-star lodges of Kenya and South Africa, visit Livingstone on the Zambian side of Victoria Falls and then stop for a few days at the Tikondane Lodge on your way to the stunning Malawi Lakes.  You will not only experience true African village life, you will have the satisfaction of knowing you are supporting an amazing and inspirational endeavor.  Tikondane can also arrange a tour to the South Luangwa Game Park, every bit as good a Kruger without the crowds.  Volunteering is also encouraged at Tikondane.

If you are in America, contact the Rotary (Sunrise) Club of Naperville, IllinoisThese guys are doing incredible things to help Tikondane, including the construction of a permanent school building and two on-site wells, as well as the provision of an ultrasound machine, nearly 500 pairs of shoes, 800 books, 400 backpacks containing school supplies and weaving looms. 

Buy a Tikondane made product from Kashgar (that's us) here in Sydney.  All profits are sent directly to Elke and during 2009 we will match all profits with a donation of equal amount. Contact us by email if you'd like to know what we stock.

How to contact Elke and Tikondane:
If you would like to contact Elke or one of the fabulous volunteers who assist her, you can do so at:


We may not be able to change the world but we can all take small steps

to make other people's lives better



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