Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I Make Thousands of Naira daily - Female Generator Mechanic

Bridget Ezekiel, 19, and a resident of Trailer Garage in Jos North LGA of Plateau State, could be described as one of those women inching closer to getting their rightful position in formerly men dominated trades.

She is a generator mechanic. The huge deficit in power supply in Nigeria has made it a common place to find generator fixers in all corners of the cities. But it is uncommon to find females engaged in the trade which Miss Ezekiel has ventured into.

At first, Bridget’s dream was to pursue her education in any of Nigeria’s universities after completion of her secondary school. Providence dictated something else; generator repairs. She spent some years acquiring the skills to fix faulty generators.

“A generator mechanic was not what I planned to do initially,”she told Daily Trust.

She said, “it was after my secondary school, when I couldn’t make my papers and my parents do not have the money to help me rewrite the school certificate examinations led me to what I am doing today.”

But how did the idea of becoming a generator mechanic evolve in her? Bridget found herself experiencing a personal crisis of what to do after she had courageously absorbed her disappointment of not making her papers at the exams?

According to her, “it was my mum that asked me to do it because after secondary school, I stayed at home for three years doing nothing; sleeping from morning till night. One morning, my mum asked me to become a mechanic. I asked her why, but she insisted that I should just do it. I thought about it for almost one month before I made up my mind to do it. That was how I started.”

Bitter was the take off as she began to acquire her skills, and rough was the process, but Bridget believes that to be great, one has to positively deviate from certain norms to succeed.

“I know that the society has certain conventional roles for both genders but in this era where people are striving to survive, one cannot limit him/herself to certain things. Besides, if you go to many advanced countries, you will see women engaging in mechanical works,” she said.

Bridget added that the words of encouragement she received from her parents as well as other relations was what kept her going when she started to learn the trade.

How does she cope in this male dominated occupation? Bridget, who is operating along the Algadama Junction in Jos, confidently says she can stand any man in terms of competence on the job and even claimed that she now works harder than her former boss who taught her how to repair generators.

“I can compete with them because even my boss who taught me this work knows I’m working harder than him. So, that is why they say ‘what a man can do, a woman can do even better’.”

Generator repair is often assumed to be a rigorous and tasking job but young Bridget doesn’t seem to take it that way. She said there isn’t much hard work involved, pointing out that once one acquired the necessary skills, the job is as easy as any other domestic work.

Speaking on how much money she makes a day, she described the business as lucrative, saying her daily income is in thousands of Naira. According to her, she started the business with the sum of N200,000 which she raised from her relations.

“I used the money after I graduated from my Oga (trainer) to buy working tools, rent a shop as well as renovate the shop because there was no door and other necessary items that will give the shop adequate security.”

She said with the money she is making, she is able to help her parents and other people around her, financially. She is planning to encourage her younger sister join her on the job.

“I don’t like this ‘biro’ work, I only want something of my own, I don’t want to be doing “Yes Sir!” just because I did not go to school.

That is why I enjoy doing this because we earn more than someone working in an office and even earn what they earn in a month within two to three days. So you see it, your own is your own and the one that is not your own is not your own, you can’t claim it. This one is mine,” she said with a smile.

The weather beaten adage, “all work without play makes Jack a dull boy” seems not to have strong meaning for Bridget as she hardly spared time to engage in socialising.

“Wow! I am always busy; I am a kind of person that doesn’t keep many friends. I always stay alone that is why I have the mind and the courage to stay here all the time. If I were the kind of person ‘with open eyes’, following men, giving me N500 and the rest of them, I will not be able to do this.”

She added, “there is no time for doing anything else from 8am to 8pm every day. There is no time for maybe going to boyfriends’ house, going to visit friends. There are many customers who will not stay if they didn’t see me; some will not even keep their work if they didn’t see me that is why I am always around.”

Speaking on relationship, Bridget who jokingly threatened to end the interview, said she doesn’t have a boyfriend when she was asked whether she has one. “It’s like we are going to end this interview now, okay., I don’t have a boyfriend”, she stated and it was all general laughter.

She maintained however that what she will settle down one day with a husband, saying, “my prayer is that before I get married, these boys working under me might have learnt the job very well. You know we women, once we are pregnant we won’t be able to do a lot of hard work like this, so I will always come around to survey what they are doing in the shop. If there is anything to do or give them, I will give. For me, I always want to have something of my own so that my husband will not look down on me.”

Considering the money Bridget makes in a day, she won’t find it easy parting with the occupation she has decided to love. Hear her: “No I can’t. This job is already mixed with my flesh and blood, I can’t stay a day without doing it, and it’s like as if I will fall sick if I don’t do it, am used to hard work now.”

From the few moments Daily Trust spent with Bridget, she looked contented. With five apprentices learning the trade at her feet, she believes there is enough success for everyone in this world, one only needs to look beyond the ordinary for a suitable one.

She ended the interview with a word of advice to her women folk thus: “In everything they are doing, they should put God first because if I didn’t put God first, I will not be here and I will not be where I am today. Boyfriend is not the solution, jumping from one hotel to another; from one club to another is not the solution to their problems either.”

Source- Daily Trust

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