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Welcome to Better Hope Barber shop, gentlemen

Written by on June 10, 2024

…wheelchair using barber says condition does not mean disability

Amid the bustling vendors selling cellphone covers, tomatoes and onions and the cuca shops that dot the dusty streets of Ondangwa, proudly stands the Better Hope Barber shop.

The name is hard to miss in big, bold black letters across the side of a tiny corrugated iron sheet structure. A cellphone number is listed just below the words.

Petrus Heita (47) is patiently waiting for his next customer to walk in.

As he waits, an Oshiwambo hymn plays on low volume on a radio for those who did not make it to church this morning. Clad in faded light blue jeans, an oversized navy floppy and All Stars sneakers, Heita welcomes The Namibian inside his tiny barber shop.

The self-taught barber has been styling and shaving men and boys’ hair since 2016.

Although he has no legs and rests in a wheelchair, he quickly elevates himself on a specially designed adjacent seat as soon as another schoolboy walks in.

He grabs a cheetah printed silk cloth, dusts it off and quickly throws it around the shoulders of his 16-year-old customer, Tuyeni Shimana.

Heita asks the boy to move his head closer.

“Alright,” the boy obliges.

The trusting teenager closes his eyes, relaxes in his seat and allows his regular barber to do his magic.

Heita grabs the razor, cleans it with a toothbrush and gets to work.

In the background, an old portable fan defiantly spins against the scorching heat, blowing on their faces.

The buzzing sound of the razor cuts into the silence.

It is a hot, Sunday morning. Tomorrow is school.

Shimana has been a regular customer since he was 11 years old. Every now and then, schoolboys like Shimana will drop by Heita’s shop for their regular haircuts to look presentable in class the next day.

Heita only charges the boys N$25. “They love coming here,” Heita says proudly, adding that many of them only trust him with their hair.

A notice made from a torn brown cardboard box is pinned on a wooden pole that reads:

Below the notice, Heita thanks his potential customers for supporting his business. “Better Hope Barber Shop…”

The name he chose for his business sums up the life he has lived. At the age of five, Heita fell from a tree and broke his legs. He has been in a wheelchair since. He could not finish school. But that has not stopped him from making a living. “If you sleep, you do not eat,” Heita says of his motto in life.

The highest level he achieved in school was Grade 10. Life has taught him to survive, he says.

During our interview, meme Gloria Shipinge, a principal at a nearby school, pops in to say hello.

“He is such a wonderful person. I have known him for years,” she says.

“Every morning he comes here to his duty station for the past 10 years. A lot of people support his business because of the nature of his condition.”

Heita looks around his small barber shop and sighs.

“All I want is to get assistance in helping to expand this place into a bigger one. That is my wish,” he says.

The post Welcome to Better Hope Barber shop, gentlemen appeared first on The Namibian.

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