Accommodation/General tips

HEEED Volunteer accommodation:

Tandy House or Cape Maclear EcoLodge


TANDY HOUSE: Tandy House is a self-contained unit situated in the grounds of Cape Maclear EcoLodge, Chembe– with its own separate entrance. There are 4 simply furnished rooms (twin beds) accommodating a total of 8 volunteers, two showers and two toilets, a small kitchenette/dining area.

Weekly charge: US$ 95 per week, per person and is payable in advance to HEEED Chembe. This charge covers the cost of Tandy House maintenance, electricity, and salaries of a cook, gardener, 3 night-watchmen and the Tandy House Coordinator, as well as a donation of $ 20 to the HEEED project.

HEEED Chembe has its own office within Tandy House and EliousYohane is the HEEED Chembe Coordinator and also Manager of both Tandy House and Cape Maclear EcoLodge.(heeedchembe[at] Tel + 265999140905.

CAPE MACLEAR ECOLODGE: for Volunteers seeking a more luxurious option within the same grounds as Tandy House  – with independent sitting/dining area, lake-side rooms with a view of Lake Malawi National Park and easy access to the beach. The charges below are per night but this can be negotiated for longer-term volunteers.

Kampango: Sleeps 5, ensuite $75

Chambo: Double ensuite $45

Mncheni: Double, wash basin shared bath $35

Liyani: Single,  shared Bath $25

Utaka:  Single, shared Bath $20

Mbuna: Single, shared Bath  $20

Meals: White Yohane is the senior cook, providing meals requested in advance. This menu varies and can include vegetarian, meat, fish, egg, pasta, curry and Japanese dishes – depending on the individual taste of the Volunteers. White and his team serve a simple breakfast of cereal, fruit, toast and tea/coffee at circa 7-9 am, lunch at 12-1.30 pm and supper – circa 6-8 pm.  Meals can also be obtained from either Thomas’ Restaurant, Taipei Garden Restaurant (both within walking distance) or from other restaurants within Chembe village.


Laundry: Clean sheets and pillow cases are provided weekly and Volunteers are expected to take care of their own personal laundry. However, arrangements on an individual basis can be made with Elious Yohane – if a Volunteer wishes to pay for this extra service.

Transport: HEEED can arrange a private taxi from Lilongwe airport to Chembe for 70,000MK, approx. US$ 200 (at present official rate of exchange). From the airport to Lilongwe town centre or bus station, a taxi costs 7,000 MK, approx. US$ 40, while  a bus from Lilongwe  to Monkey Bay (18 km from Chembe) costs about 4,000MK (approx. US$ 22).  There are a number of Chembe “taxis” (matolas) that ply between Chembe and Monkey Bay and the charge is around 1000MK ($6) round-trip in either a small truck or a mini-bus. In Monkey Bay there is a post office and a bank, as well as a market and a greater range of shops than in Chembe. HEEED currently has no functioning vehicle, apart from a 4-wheeler that can be used within Chembe village for project purposes, but not beyond – as this is not licensed to be used on the main road. There is also a Volunteer bicycle, with a lock and a pump, which is only for Volunteer use: it is not to be lent to anyone else and it is kept at Tandy House.

Health and Travel Insurance: HEEED Volunteers are expected to provide their own health and travel insurance for the duration of their stay with HEEED. The local Chembe Billy Riordan Health Clinic can assist in emergencies and we also require that HEEED Volunteers take an anti-malarial prophylactic. If a HEEED Volunteer contracts bilharzia, this is easily treated with a dose of biltracide (prasiquantil) six weeks after leaving Malawi – which is specific to the parasite. Prasiquantil can be purchased from a pharmacy in Monkey Bay or Mangochi. The following websites give useful health information:

General Information and helpful tips

  1. HEEED Commitment: HEEED accepts all volunteers on an independent basis and will do all it can to ensure that the Volunteer will have an enjoyable and safe experience during their stay in Malawi. However, the HEEED Volunteer is ultimately responsible for his/her own safety, health or events outside HEEED control – while working as a Volunteer. Although HEEED can and will offer support in an emergency situation, the Volunteer is expected to organize his/her own travel and travel insurance. To this end, the HEEED Volunteer will be requested, upon arrival at Tandy House, to sign a waiver and to pay a deposit for the room key. At the same time, HEEED undertakes to give the Volunteer  an orientation session, introducing him/her to all staff, an up-date on current news at the project site, basic safety and cultural issues, as well as emergency telephone numbers EliousYohane +265 999140905, the Chembe Billy Reardon Clinic,White Yohanne +265 881092810.
  2. Malawian Visas and Work permits. Non-Malawian Volunteers need to be aware of the rules regarding short-term visitors and longer-term stays in Malawi. However, non-Malawians can enter the country on a tourist visa for 30 days and this can be renewed for up to 3 months at Mangochi Department of Immigration (in either Mangochi, Blantyre or Lilongwe). Individuals wishing to stay longer can leave Malawi and visit Mozambique or Zambia for a short holiday and return for another 3 months.
  3. Code of Conduct: HEEED Volunteers are expected to respect local customs, religions and traditions and behave in an appropriate manner. Unfortunately, illness and funerals are a regular occurrence in Chembe and this may delay or alter work plans. Moderate use of alcohol is permitted but no drugs are allowed at Tandy House. No visitors are allowed overnight at Tandy House and the HEEED Volunteer must inform the night watchman if he/she will return late. Should the Volunteer decide to alter his/her programme or duration of stay – he/she needs to inform the HEEED Chembe Coordinator, EliousYohane. Communication with HEEED staff is extremely important.
  4. Teacher’s Assistant. The HEEED Volunteer who assists a Malawian school teacher at any level will soon become familiar with the general approach of Malawian students and teachers to one another.  Malawian students are often taught by rote and not encouraged to question the teacher’s information or opinion. Consequently, many foreign teachers are surprised by the passive behaviour of the average student and the HEEED Volunteer is encouraged to find his/her way to stimulate independent thinking and enterprise among students. At the same time, the HEEED Volunteer needs to recognise the Malawian school curriculum and work within this frame-work – whilst also providing complementary, innovative material and methodology.
  5. Begging: this trait has become more pronounced since the days of President Muluzi, when hand-outs from foreign donor organizations became the norm. As a result, a begging mentality has permeated the whole strata of society and the HEEED Volunteer needs to be alert to requests for anything from pencils to the contents of their purse. We strongly discourage a HEEED Volunteer from succumbing to more or less subtle forms of begging. If a Volunteer wanted to provide school fees for someone, this could become a subject of discussion. However, this would require careful handling – if money is to be properly allocated and genuine school reports be sent to the donor.  Please do not give any money to any individuals in the village or to HEEED staff.  Please report any HEEED staff who request money from you as this is against HEEED policy. Gifts are greatly appreciated and should be handled by Chembe Coordinator EliousYohanne. All HEEED accounts are transparent and funds will be spent as you desire. Large donations will be deposited in their own designated account to be spent as the donor requests.
  6. Leisure: kayaking, diving, snorkeling, hiking, bird-watching and sun-set excursions with the HEEED “Panda Boat” can be offered to HEEED Volunteers at reduced rates. Divers must show their certification cards and HEEED (overseen by EliousYohanne) will organize diving equipment (using the buddy system), fuel and journey to the dive-/snorkeling sites – to view the myriad wonders of LMNP brightly-coloured species of fish found nowhere else in the world. For the uninitiated, there are diving and snorkeling lessons offered by Patrick,  the new HEEED Diving Instructor.  He also  offers courses in Open water, Advanced,  as well as Adventure and Rescue. For a modest fee, HEEED staff will also provide escorted walking tours to some of the surrounding hills and historic sites, as well as the village itself.
  7. Communication-Internet and Telephone: If a Volunteer brings a lap-top computer, he/she can then buy a Skyband 5-hour card that is valid for 2 weeks and costs circa $17 or a 30-minute card that is valid for 48 hours and costs circa $2. Alternatively, a Volunteer can access Internet at Gecko Lounge, a 10-minute walk away from Tandy House.  Also, a Volunteer who brings a cell phone can buy a Zain or Tnm SIM car at the airport.
  8. Cash: It is best for a Volunteer to bring US$ in cash (rather than pounds or Euros), because traveler cheques are difficult to cash and most prices are quoted in US dollars.  The rate of exchange today (04.04.2013) at FMB (bank) in Lilongwe is 415  Malawi Kwacha (MK). However, this rate of exchange may vary in the future. 
  9. Questions and comments: HEEED hopes that the Volunteers will enjoy their work and stay at Tandy House. A tip to the Tandy House staff is appreciated and expected if you are pleased with the service. Overseen by Elious Yohanne, any donation to staff will be divided equally among the 6 members who have taken care of you, and this encourages them to work unceasingly to make your visit memorable and enjoyable. If there are any questions or comments – please do not hesitate to address these to Elious Yohanne.