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Zambian entrepreneur empowers homeless youth through recycling

(Xinhua) — John Ngoma, a 40-year-old man who owns a recycling company in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, has helped homeless youth earn a sustainable living through the collection of recyclable wastes, giving them a sense of dignity and hope for life.

Having witnessed the hardship the youth endured in finding a job, Ngoma felt that he could change their lives for the better through the collection and sale of recyclable materials.

He opened a waste collection point on the periphery of Kamwala trading area, a busy trading place in Lusaka, and employed young people lack of social supports. This has not only helped bring them more incomes but also contributed to environmental sustainability in Kamwala and surrounding areas.

It has been three years since Ngoma registered the company called Ngoma Recycling that provides jobs for 21 young people aged 19 to 28 years. Aside from a weekly pay, they have been provided with free accommodation to ensure they do not end up back on the street.

“This job puts food on my table and a roof over my head. I am grateful for the opportunity to earn a living through earnest work,” said Mapalo Zulu, 24, a beneficiary of the Ngoma Recycling initiative.

John Ngoma works on recyclable materials in Lusaka, Zambia, Aug. 15, 2023. (Photo by Lillian Banda/Xinhua)

Zulu’s colleague, Amos Mwape, said that he is grateful for working in the recycling company as many homeless young people could hardly get a job because they are considered to be social misfits.

“This recycling initiative has been a lifeline for me. Collecting recyclables not only provides an income, but also gives us a sense of purpose and the desire to do better in life,” Mwape said.

Ngoma’s quest to uplift the lives of homeless and troubled youth through recycling has earned him praise from community leaders and local authorities.

Bobkins Chipeso, a local official, said Ngoma’s efforts are creating opportunities for earnest living for underserved individuals.

“His efforts have been significant. By empowering vulnerable youths to become part of the recycling value chain, he has helped them gain financial stability and accorded them a dignified life. We need more social entrepreneurs like him to reduce unemployment among young people,” Chipeso stated.


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