Update on Tikondane - the Little Zambian Charity with a Big Heart
Added over 7 years ago
I first met Elke when she came into our store in Bondi Junction in 2008, ironically looking for an African handicraft to give as a thank you gift to one of her Australian sponsors. My curiosity was piqued: why would the founder of a Zambian charity look for a gift here in Australia? Surely a trinket from the Tikondane region would have been easier to find?
Elke soon set me straight. Most rural Zambians are illiterate and live in abject poverty. There are no resources available for creating jewellery, basketry, statuary or handicrafts of any description: everything is used up in the struggle of day to day survival. Look at a picture of a Zambian woman. You will see no jewellery or adornment of any kind. Look at a picture of a rural Zambian home: a grass thatched hut with a packed dirt floor, a couple of clay pots and thin bedding is all you will see.
At Kashgar we buy handicrafts from tribal communities in over 25 different countries all over the world and are well used to seeing beautiful objects created out of the most basic of resources, so Elke's comments seemed merely challenging to me. Over the next few weeks while she remained in Sydney to generate funding for Tikondane, we discussed ways of making something out of nothing. We came up with the idea of stuffed animals, wooden key rings, woven wraps, rattan table brushes and simple shoulder bags made of brightly dyed cotton. We discussed pricing strategies, production techniques and the availability of raw materials. The items would be made at Tikondane by residents and then brought to Sydney via the network of volunteers that visit Tikondane.
The first stuffed toy that appeared was fairly disastrous - a giraffe made from a rather hideously patterned floral cotton, its neck apparently broken in several places and unable to stand on its own four legs. But with time and feedback we managed to get some consistency in the animals and then even started selling them. In 2009 we pledged to give all proceeds from the sale of Tikondane items to Tikondane, less only the GST collected on each piece. And so it was with great pleasure that we were recently able to present Elke with a cheque for A$566, enough money to keep one resident of Tikondane employed for one and a half years.
Humble origins: a Tikondane elephant that we sell for $12
It is our fond hope that with further assistance, Tikondane will be able to create a more sophisticated handicraft industry and eventually sell their work to other, bigger retail markets around the world. We are also in the process of helping Elke design set of greeting cards based on photographs of Tikondane and it's residents.
The Tikondane lion: one of our best sellers
If you would like to know more about Tikondane, read our full story on the little charity with a big heart here or visit the Tikondane website. If you would like to purchase or even stock Tikondane handicrafts, you can contact us at Kashgar on firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also make donations directly to Tikondane as follows:
Send cheque to:
National Council of Churches
Locked Bag 199
SYDNEY NSW 1230
UK and EU
Make payment to:
Barclays International Bank
A/c No: 50 18 51 24
Sort code 20 47 42
IBAN GB 46
Swiftbic BARC GB 22
38 Hans Crescent
LONDON UK SW1X OLZ
Make payment to:
Naperville Sunrise Rotary ClubMemo field ‘Tikondane'
Mail to: Rotary Club Naperville Sunrise
P O Box 890
NAPERVILLE Illinois 60566
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:
Remember, 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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