Elke Kroeger-Radcliffe (a passionate cross-cultural psychologist from Germany, England and lastly Australia), got a job training the nurses at the nearby St Francis Mission Hospital in Katete in 1993. She started adult literacy classes for the workers at the hospital. When local villagers asked to join the classes the need for a separate place for teaching emerged. Two hectares of land were given by his royal highness, Chief Mbang’ombe, for development. Chief Mbang’ombe is one of three chiefs in Katete district. He oversees some 450 villages and is the right-hand man of the Paramount Chief, who is the head of 12 million Chewa people. In 1999 Tikondane Community Centre was inaugurated as a community based organisation. Today, Tiko has grown to employ and support 85 local crew members and their families. Elke lives onsite as the driving force, spirit and tireless energy behind everything we do.
Doris Lungu a local subsistence farmer was the first member of Tikondane. From her Elke learned about the needs of the community. Elke learned that teaching literacy was not as important as having a job, especially for women, to prevent them from having to resort to prostitution for survival. This is particularly important because of the rampant problem of HIV and AIDS. Doris is a good example of the difficulties that HIV creates in the community. Doris has five children herself, however, many of her ten siblings died from HIV/AIDS and left her with orphans. Furthermore, as her living relatives don’t have any income, they also leave their children with her. Doris essentially runs her own orphanage where she cares for 24 children to date.
THE TIKO MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE
From the beginning, Tiko had a management committee. This continues to meet for weekly meetings of up to three hours. Reports about what occurred during the week are given by the managers of every department, and the representatives of every project. Tikondane also supports the communities surrounding the centre. These people are represented in our meetings by the headmen of the 53 villages, compounds and sections. The meetings are run in Chichewa and English. It is probably the only occasion that the women in the group have a chance to speak up (whilst our goal is to preserve the Chewa tradition, one aspect we do not support is the poor status of women). There are some 16,000 people who know what is happening at Tiko.