Franco was another person, who changed my perception of Africa, breaking every stereotype about its desperate suffering population, dependent on the Western aid. He might have little to non money in his pocket, but Franco is one of the strongest, most independent and single-minded people I ever met.
Franco is 22 years of age. He graduated from school a year ago and is currently working in Chisokone market, employed by a small store that sells second-hand shoes.
He rents a small room with no electricity, so has to leave his mobile phone to charge in a special store every morning and pick it up on his way from work.
Franco gets up at 7am and takes a bus to the market…
He works from 8am until 6pm, occasionally taking a lunch break to eat in a market canteen. Franco often gets by taking a single meal a day, usually in the evenings, in order to save money.
Coming home in the evening, Franco makes a small fire in a stove and cooks a simple dinner. He admits not having many friends or entertainment like TV and music, so he passes time checking Facebook on his phone. ‘After that, I often feel tired and dizzy, so I go to sleep. Just like that, and life goes on…’.
One of the biggest problems in the market, in Franco’s opinion, is not crime or poor sanitation, but the local authorities. ‘If we don’t pay levy or bills on time because we don’t have money, they take our goods. It happened to me twice. They can take only half from a pair of shoes because I can’t sell another half, so I have to go to the office to collect it when I have money, paying extra penalty fee on top of the usual price’.
Franco earns around £50 per month and puts up to 80% aside, saving money to continue education. He says: ‘I want to go to college and study Mass Communication and Technology to become a journalist – that’s my dream and I have to achieve it’.
This is the last image I took of Franco and this is how I remember him – always smiling, always positive about the future. I often think of him and his attitude to life, remembering his ability to glance past current hardship and see the bright future. I learned a lot from this Zambian boy.