“Young leaders are usually faced with the challenge of choice. Sometimes, they lose sight of why they started doing something and end up being swayed by what they are expected to do instead, or follow the crowd and end up pursuing other people’s dreams. In some cases, young leaders get to a point where it stops being about how they can help other people, but more of what is in it for them…the personal gain that they will attain.”
Lombe Tembo hails from Zambia, the land of the legendary African walking safari. Born into a close-knit family of six, she grew up to become a wallflower, a painfully shy child. She however began to ask herself in her late teen years, what unique thing she was going to commit her life to doing.
Ms Tembo, a trained Economist, found it burdensome when people expected her to follow the path often traveled – graduate from the university, and immediately get a job in a bank. Despite this expectation from family and friends, she pressed on to explore the concept of “development” which was not so clear to her at that time. Determined to make a difference, Lombe began her leadership journey by volunteering her time and skills across several causes and organizations committed to the development of young people. Her volunteering experiences broadened her world view, opened her up to a new phase of learning, and renewed her commitment to helping people in meaningful ways.
Even though she received deep fulfillment from working in the development field, she was pressured to take up corporate work in the bank, due to numerous financial needs. After a few months, Lombe Tembo made the daring decision to shelve her role at the bank for 100% commitment to youth development and advocacy. This decision came with a lot of public ridicule and general disapproval, particularly from her peers. There were many demotivating moments and days of severe financial lack. Despite being a passionate youth worker, it was hard to access the opportunities she desired and achieving personal and professional growth seemed impossible. Lombe’s confidence dropped to an all time low upon receiving series of rejection letters for opportunities in the development space. Nevertheless, she remained resolute and thrived on the support of understanding family and friends who offered her guidance and served as her enduring support system.
Our Super Girl’s big breakthrough came when she was invited to the United Nations, to speak about youth priorities in the General Assembly Hall. She was subsequently accepted into several youth programs, which gave her the network, resources, and platform to contribute even more positively to her country and community.
Lombe is currently a member of the United Nations Youth Partnership Platform along with 22 other young Zambians, working in an advisory capacity with UN agencies in Zambia. She is also a member of the Queen’s Young Leaders Advisory Panel, and is the vice chairperson of the Street Culture Youth Foundation.
She enjoys reading, cooking, and traveling. Regardless of the low moments, she strongly believes that her life journey is an amazing one, with every situation bearing unique lessons.
In her words, “I remind myself continuously that everyone has a different story and trying to measure my success by looking at when other people achieved their dreams is a recipe for disaster.”
Girl Pride Circle is proud of Lombe Tembo’s strong resolve to follow her dreams. Indeed, she proves to all girls across Africa that there is no such thing as an invalid dream!