Hair dresser determined to keep young girls off the streets

Giving back to society may seem to be a preserve of the rich, but in reality the passion to help others is strongest in those who have very little in the way of material possessions. THABANI DUBE spoke to one woman who is determined to keep young girls off the streets.

Empowered; Previous Chimoto (20) an orphaned young woman whose dream of training in hairdressing was fulfilled.
Empowered; Previous Chimoto (20) an orphaned young woman whose dream of training in hairdressing was fulfilled.

Growing up in the dusty streets of one of the Harare’s oldest high-density suburbs, Dzivarasekwa 3 (DZ), Theresa Kambuwa Simbaneuta developed a passion to assist the young women in her community overcome poverty and other problems.

Knowing first-hand the challenges of being a girl-child in the ghetto, Simbaneuta was determined to do all in her power to save the lives of poverty-stricken girls – especially from prostitution or early pregnancy.

Having attained a national certificate in hairdressing at Harare Polytechnic in 2002, she is now using her little backyard salon as a training ground for underprivileged girls.

“I voluntarily started training young girls aged 18 years and above in hairdressing in 2011 so that they can do something meaningful in life, rather than falling into prostitution and other social ills,” she said in a recent interview.

“Last year, I approached our local councillor to assist in engaging the community more fully with this initiative. He linked me with a local social worker based at our community hall and CHARZ, (a local organisation that assists in training and certification of community-based training). I am now working with them,” she said.

Simbaneuta is married with four children and stays in Glen View.

Equipment needed

“My husband is employed and I commute every day to DZ to do my business at his parents’ place. I set up Terry’s School of Hairdressing and on July 18 20 young women from DZ graduated with certificates after completing a six-month course,” she announced proudy.

Due to limited resources and hairdressing equipment a fee of $15 was charged to those who could afford it, to buy things needed for training. “I have one hair-dryer, one blower, a pair of tong-stove and rollers. Most of the equipment costs between $15 and $150 in the face of competing needs back home, it is difficult for most to buy them,” she said.

Simbaneuta’s wish is to get assistance in securing a proper workplace and four hair-dryers, blowers, tongs, stoves and other equipment to fully realise her dream of assisting and empowering the girl child.

“There are some young women who cannot even afford to raise the $15 and I train them for free,” she said. The girls are given both theoretical and practical training in how to do different hair styles such as carrot carpet, gel-up and popcorn, freeze web, braiding, weaving, perm, chemical hair relaxing and tinting.

I love hairdressing

Previous Chimoto (20) an orphan who stays with her grandmother, is one of those who has benefited from the training. “I love hairdressing and am happy that can now do something in life. I approached Simbaneuta to teach me for free. She is so understanding and there for us,” said Chimoto.

Proprietor Mugariri (23) is married with two children and also graduated from Simbaneuta’s school.

“I joined the hairdressing school because my husband was not employed. Mrs Simbaneuta agreed to train me and let me pay later so that I could supplement my husband’s meagre earnings. My first child should be in Grade Zero but is not going to school due to lack of money. But since I have attained a livelihood skill, this will soon be a thing of the past,” she said hopefully.

Alphabet Ruwanda (22) works as a maid in DZ and also managed to graduate from the school. “Using my own earnings, I trained as a hairdresser and now look forward to starting my own salon and becoming a successful businesswoman,” Ruwanda said.

Ward 39, Dzivarasekwa Councillor, Gilbert Hadebe said due to lack of funds there was need for development partners and council to invest in community-based projects like this.

Invest in skills

“In the face of a wilting economy there is need to invest in livelihood skills. As councillors we are still waiting for the local government ministry to approve our proposed ward development fund, which could go a long way in championing such projects,” he said.

Harare councillors last year, proposed that five percent of the city’s annual revenue to be ploughed back to society for community development purposes.

“City of Harare at the moment is crippled as all of its cash cows and accounts were garnished by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, hence the need for willing partners to come on board and fill the gap,” said Hadebe.

“When Mrs Simbaneuta approached me for support, I invited our social worker Annatoria Mushaya to get involved. She has been instrumental in teaching various livelihood skills in DZ. There are also six other women who graduated from an Early Child Development teaching course, together with the 20 hairdressers. I hope this initiative will bear much fruit,” he said.

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