Aiming to Beat Men at Bricklaying
Female bricklayers… It is not everyday that one bumps into a woman holding a spirit level and building a house or maybe sliding under a vehicle to fix a mechanical fault. In many countries – if not all – construction and engineering trades are heavily dominated by males, forcing some to believe that females cannot engage in those areas.
Well, that is according to Lakisa and Caroline. These two girls are students of the bricklaying class of our vocational training programme. They enrolled in February, 2016 with one sole purpose – to squash the idea that bricklaying is meant for men.
“Almost everyone in my community does not believe that girls can compete with boys at bricklaying so I wanted to prove them wrong.” Started Carol who is 24 years. She explained that she has always desired to help decrease the gender gap existing in construction. Lakisa concurred with her friend.
“I believed the stories [that females cannot build] until I saw a hostel that was constructed by women at a particular school where I come from.” The 23-year-old spoke. That was when Lakisa realized that with determination, any woman is capable of becoming an expert bricklayer. She said she was so inspired with the building skills the women displayed that she imagined herself doing something similar. Lakisa’s reaction to the women who built the dormitory is not surprising since in most rural communities of Malawi, women are most often confined to the realms of the kitchen. They are not allowed to participate in trades like carpentry, bricklaying or even tailoring. It is therefore not strange that the majority in these professions are males.
“When I joined the bricklaying class, my friends were startled.” agrees Carol “They thought I would never last a week.” The girl went on explaining that the attitude from peers did not discourage her from pursuing her dream. She said that from the skills she has acquired so far, she strongly believes that she has finally fulfilled what she has always wanted – becoming a female bricklayer. During the first practical session that the class conducted, Carol and Lakisa were among the students who impressed their teacher. They built wall pillars that captured the attention of not only students from other disciplines but also visitors.
“You know what, even if someone walked in today and offered me a contract to build a house, I will confidently accept the offer.” Lakisa described, a visible indication that she has gathered the necessary knowledge to take on challenges. Smiling, she narrated that even though she is only 3 months into the course, she can design and plan the layout of a foundation. Lakisa and Carol envision themselves establishing an all-girl bricklaying business in their community. They are confident that this would help motivate fellow girls to change the wrong mentality they have about bricklaying being a “male only” zone.
As they concluded their stories, both girls expressed their appreciation for our training programme.
“Getting an opportunity like the one There is Hope gave us is rare.” Carol admitted, saying “It is tough out here because we cannot afford to pay for similar education in other community colleges.”
“One college I know charges around 90 thousand Kwacha as fees. Where can someone like me get such a huge amount of money?” Added Lakisa.
Our courses are offered at a heavily subsidized rate to enable underprivileged individuals from the rural communities to attain quality vocational qualification at an affordable fee. Through our vocational training centre, we continue supporting individuals like Lakisa and Carol to realize their goals.