Lute Tembo has lived at the Kabwata Orphanage and Transit Centre in Lusaka, Zambia, since she was three weeks old – and at 24 today, it had been the only home she had ever known before moving into a home nearby she shares with Kabwata staff member Beatrice, and Aggie, a school teacher who is also 24 and was raised Kabwata.
It is there that she grew from an orphaned helpless infant dependent on Kabwata founder and director Angela Miyanda and staff members, and eventually the older children who treated her lovingly as one of their younger “sisters and brothers” as a young girl.
Later as a youth in her preteens, she returned the favor sharing her love to those who arrived at Kabwata in the subsequent years, such as Moses, caring for him as the little brother he is to her.
It was during those adolescent years that Lute discovered her talent for braiding, and upon completion of her secondary school education (made possible by the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa® which she gratefully acknowledges) she was able to continue her education to earn her certification in hairdressing.
“She has always demonstrated a passion for cosmetology and hairdressing and would always help her fellow girls with their hair,” says Sima Miyanda, Angela’s son who assisted her in opening Lute’s Hair Salon on the grounds of Kabwata with grant funding from Bread and Water for Africa® to help get her off to a great start on her new endeavor.
“It has long been her dream to put her talent to good use,” said Sima, who has known Lute her entire life.
“With the benefit of attending training courses to supplement her budding skills she is now able to take the next step forward,” he said, adding, “The local hairdressing industry is a thriving one” and pointing out that “Kabwata is a busy and bustling area of the city that sees a lot of movement of people on a daily basis… therefore this is a prime location for a business of this nature.”
Since the opening of Lute’s Hair Salon this year, she is achieving her two-fold goals of providing herself with gainful employment which is evolving into a sustainable income source for her for the rest of her life.
But, equally important, through her experience she is serving as a role model for the younger girls and young women, as well as passing on her braiding and cosmetology knowledge on to the girls at Kabwata who also share an interest in hairdressing and hope to one day follow in her footsteps.
While initially primarily working alone on her own, she is joined occasionally by her Kabwata “sisters,” Esther and Tangu, who grew up with Lute there in order to be able to accommodate more clients in a single day.
To make it all happen, Sima identified a carpenter who specializes in constructing wooden structures, such as sheds, which are easy to transport and assemble on site.
“We identified a secure space at Kabwata with access to water and electricity that suits her purposes while not interfering with the daily life at the home and infringing on security,” he noted.
In addition, the salon has been outfitted with salon chairs, mirrors, a sink designed specifically for washing hair and hair dryers, as well as stocking it with a wide variety of combs and brushes and hair products.
“For the long term, we hope to see the salon grow into and expand into cosmetics and makeup,” says Sima. “Lute envisions being able to hire and train more people to give back to the community.”
As for Lute herself, she understands deeply how her life has been impacted through Kabwata where she was taught how to cook and clean, but most importantly “how to look after yourself.
“I couldn’t have started the shop and achieved my dream.”
But as Lute has spent her life caring for the young children arriving at Kabwata she feels she has a special bond saying, “I see myself inside that child” and speaking for all the children of Kabwata, “I am just so appreciative of everything you are doing for us, especially in terms of shelter, food… and for all that you continue to do.
“It is only by the grace of God.”
And as for Sima, her biggest supporter and greatest advocate:
“It is our belief that given the support she needed this young woman with an entrepreneurial spirit and grand aspirations for the future will be able to support herself through the use of her talent and achieve her goals.”