AS a little boy, 19-year-old Davies Tembo always looked forward to one day wearing the Zambia Army uniform as a serving soldier.
However, the combination of a broken home, lack of education and a life of squalor have stood in the way of that dream.
Davies now trades in brooms to help his jobless mother feed and care for his four siblings and over time, the brooms have swept away his dream of becoming a soldier.
Every morning, Davies leaves his home in Lusaka’s sprawling compound of Misisi at 06:00 hours, carrying brooms which he exchanges for empty beer bottles or containers.
To finish his load, Davies walks through Kamwala South, enters Libala South then Chilenje and winds up in Woodlands before embarking on his journey back home.
To return home, Davies takes another route
through Chilenje to Libala then Kabwata where he turns into Kamwala
South before arriving back in Misisi.
There is never a day Davies travels light – he always has a load to carry.
He starts off with 30 brooms every day, exchanging each for six bottles or two 5 litre containers or three 2.5 litre containers.
So as Davies makes his rounds every day, the huge load of brooms on his shoulders is slowly replaced by another of bottles and containers.
The bottles are then sold for K1 to bar owners while the containers are sold for K3 and K2 for a 5 litre and 2.5 litre respectively.
The profits are for Davies’ employer who pays him K40 daily.
In the midst of his daily routine, Davies agreed to take a short break to talk to #Kalemba earlier today.
“This job is not easy. l leave home very early and return around 17:00 hours every day. It makes me very tired but it is better than doing nothing,” he explains.
“When I was young, I dreamt of becoming soldier when I grow up. I really love the military and the uniform. But l know I can’t live my dream because I discontinued school in Grade 7. I can’t read or write very well,” he reveals.
Davies said he dropped out of St Lawrence Primary School in Kamwala area after his mother divorced his father for another man.
“My stepfather did not want to pay for my education or stay with me. So I went to the village in Lundazi in 2015 when I was in Grade 7. I came back after sometime but I was not taken to school,” he explains.
“My stepfather does not want to stay with me and my older brother but my mother has told him for the marriage to hold, he must accept us. Even last evening, my mother was quarrelling about the same issue with him,” he says.
Despite the hardships Davies is enduring, he remains hopeful for a better life.
Every Sunday when he is not working, Davies attends mass at St Lawrence Parish and prays for a better life.
Davies believes that with focus and belief in God, his life will become better.
But one thing is certain – Davies is fighting a difficult battle for a good life.
Story and pictures by Salim Dawood