By Kunda Londa
When you look at this makeshift car wash, you will think it’s one of the common hundreds you see everywhere you go around Zambia.
Those where proprietors sing and shout as they wash your car. But this is a special one! None of the four owners mutters a word.
You will find this ‘special’ car wash as you just enter Luanshya opposite Buseko Primary school. It is owned by four special entrepreneurs of Luanshya namely: Ian Chishimba currently pursuing a Teacher’s Diploma at Kitwe College of education, Graham Chiyangi, Japhet Buyungwe and Chanda Mutale, all of them are dumb and deaf.
These young men aged between 16 and 23 can only communicate with customers by way of writing while using sign language among themselves.
According to Graham, the quartet came up with the idea of the car wash due to challenges they face of finding employment as many employers are not ready to employ them due to their “handicap.”
They set up a temporal makeshift structure in an open space between houses and draw water for washing customers’ cars from a well-wisher’s well.
They wash between five to six cars in a day.
However, by midday on the day of my interaction with them, they had washed no car but were optimistic that they will have business later in the afternoon.
When asked what challenges they faced, Graham and Chanda told the writer they faced challenges such as attracting customers.
“As you can see, there is no proper structure here. This means we cannot put decent signage to inform the general public about our services. Also, we are lacking equipment that others have such as high-pressure car washing machines. Of course, we cannot call customers, only those who see our buckets and drum and know what we do give us business.”
Commenting on how much they are making at the moment, they said, “We charge K20 per car which gives us about K120. We are three at the moment, because Ian is at school, and share equally K40 each if we are not buying detergents and car polish. We can, however, do better if we had what we indicated above. We are thinking some well-wishers can help us so we can improve our income. We do not want to go in the streets and start begging, that is why we decided to employ ourselves.”
Graham indicated he had completed grade 12 from St, Joseph School in Kalulushi.
Indeed, these boys need support as they have shown that they are willing to improve and lead decent lives like another entrepreneur.
The challenge falls squarely on Luanshya elected leaders.