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Issue: Micro-Economics

Release Date: September 1, 2010

Video Testimony: K. Barber

Photos: A. Seegers

Photo of Arnold Muntina and Timothy Ntenge
Photos by Alexandra Seegers

Service with a smile!

Before training we were saying that planning is just a waste of time, planning is for others. But it is not for others. This Africare program has transformed our lives.

Photo of Arnold Muntina and Timothy NtengeBicycles keep the community of Mtendere moving. In fact, they are the preferred mode of transportation in the busy streets of this suburb located outside Lusaka, the capital city of Zambia. They’re easy on the budget and perfect for weaving between cars during an afternoon traffic jam. So, when a bike breaks down or gets a flat tire, a life of ease can quickly come to a halt… especially when there’s no one within miles to fix it.

That was the case before Arnold Muntina and Timothy Ntenge came onto the scene. Now the small suburb of Mtendere has its very own bike shop run by two Africare youth. Arnold and Timothy are the best trained bike mechanics in the area. As one person put it, “I bring my bike for maintenance here because where else can you find a trained and fully qualified bike mechanic?”

"We are the major [mechanics] wherever you go,” notes Timothy proudly. “Some mechanics are operating in other areas, but when our customers come here, they say ‘You are more perfect than those people because the way they do the job is not the way you are trained here. You have the knowledge of this bicycle.’ So we are the major [mechanics]."

The pair was identified and trained by Africare’s RAPIDS program in Zambia, which strives to improve the quality of life for Zambians affected by HIV/AIDS. The program empowers young people through life skills and vocational training, keeping youth off the streets and busy with thoughts of their future in a new vocation or career. More than 54,000 youth have been assisted through the program and trained in specialized fields.

Arnold and Timothy say the RAPIDS training has changed the direction of their lives. Vocational training has improved their goal-setting, negotiation skills, financial management, and marketing of their business. Life skills training has built their self-awareness, self-esteem, and assertiveness.

“This program has transformed our lives. It was an advantage for us to learn more because we were ignorant about how we were supposed to plan for ourselves, how we were suppose to live,” remarks Arnold. “Before that [training], we were saying 'planning is just a waste of time, planning is for others.’ But it is not for others. We started applying the knowledge, and now we are showing things from those skills.”

The business brings in about 500,000 kwacha per month (about $100), far surpassing Zambia’s national average income, and they are making plans to expand.

How far will Arnold and Timothy’s story go? You can help.

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